National charity RIP Medical Debt just wiped out $278 million of medical debt for over eighty thousand Americans, Wall Street Journal reports

National charity RIP Medical Debt just wiped out $278 million of medical debt for over eighty thousand Americans, Wall Street Journal reports
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Passengers wearing face masks wait for their bus in front of a national debt display on Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington on Monday, May 18, 2020 Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

National charity RIP Medical Debt announced on Tuesday that it will buy $278 million of medical debt from hospitals in Tennessee and Virginia, in a bid to help low-income patients struggling with debt, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It's the first time the charity has reached a deal with a hospital to wipe out medical debt. Patients from Ballad Health, which operates hospitals in Virginia and Tennessee, will be the first to see some of their debts wiped.

According to the report, many of the 82,000 people who will receive the financial assistance should have qualified for free care under Ballad's policy, and executives at Ballad claimed that many hadn't applied for it.

With some of the bills being a decade old, RIP Medical Debt told the Journal that they are planning to strike similar deals with other hospitals.

"They still owe that money," RIP Medical Debt's executive director Allison Sesso told The Journal. Sesso added that one in five residents in some ZIP Codes has debt from Ballad that will be abolished.

The charity organization is hoping to address a recurring problem within financial-aid programs at non-profit hospitals, where qualified patients often accumulate exorbitant medical bills.

Nonprofit hospital networks like Ballad receive tax breaks at multiple federal and local levels in order to provide community relief and have been accused by lawmakers of not doing enough to ensure that patients have the information and guidance necessary to apply for those programs.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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