The financial gift was bequeathed to the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt and will impact residents in Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
“I know firsthand how medical costs and a broken healthcare system put families further and further in debt,” Abrams said in a statement. “Across the sunbelt and in the South, this problem is exacerbated in states like Georgia where failed leaders have callously refused to expand Medicaid, even during a pandemic.”
Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of allied group Fair Fight Action and senior adviser to the PAC, noted that paying off medical debt is another aspect of the group’s progressive advocacy to expand Medicaid coverage in the 12 states that have refused to expand the health insurance to all poorer adults.
“What is so important about this is the tie between Medicaid expansion and just crushing medical debt,” Groh-Wargo said.
Fair Fight said letters will be sent to those whose debts have been absolved. According to the report, the gift will forgive the debt of nearly 69,000 people in Georgia, more than 27,000 people in Arizona, more than 8,000 people in Louisiana, and about 2,000 people in Mississippi and Alabama.
Allison Sesso, executive director of RIP Medical Debt, explains that massive medical debt drives people into bankruptcy, can detract people from seeking needed medical care, and can lead to wages garnishment or liens filed on the property of those who can’t pay.
“I wouldn’t underestimate the mental anguish that people have from medical debt,” Sesso said.”We are not the permanent solution. There does need to be a larger solution around what we do about medical debt.”
Groh-Wargo added that the donation was given by donors for political action, but said the money represents “only a small percentage” of what Fair Fight has raised for its agenda.
“I think of this as politically tithing to help the community we are advocating for and with,” he said.