SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) — A Santa Clarita church took the concept of forgiveness literally this past Easter and paid off $1.6 million in medical debt.
Higher Vision Church in Santa Clarita was among more than a dozen houses of worship nationwide that raised millions to donate to RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization that arranges such debt payoffs, according to US News & World Report. In a drive attended by 8,000 people, the church raised $16,000 – wiping out $1.6 million in medical debt.
Because RIP Medical Debt buys medical debts on the secondary market for pennies on the dollar, even a modest amount raised by a church can go much further in debt forgiveness. The church, which is located in a shopping center right off the 5 Freeway at the 126, pledged to wipe out $200 in medical debt for every person who attended a service April 18 to 21.
Higher Vision Church advertised the drive on its Facebook page in April with a video that opens with the Lord’s Prayer, which asks God “to forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
“Thirteen percent of California is in medical debt. According to medical debt on credit reports, it adds up to $7.2 billion,” the video says. “What if we mobilize the church to abolish the debt of the sin, and crippling medical costs for others?”
Churches across the country reportedly became aware of RIP Medical Debt through a segment on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” in 2016.