Des Moines Church’s Incredible Gift to Iowans: Complete Payment of $5 Million of Medical Debt

A Harvard Study last year cemented the reality known by two-thirds of Americans: the number one reason for bankruptcy is due to medical debt. The Capitol Hill Lutheran Church in Des Moines decided to do something about that for their fellow Iowans, partnering with the debt-forgiveness charity RIP Medical Debt to clear out $5 million in bills for the state. 

Rev. Minna Bothwell consulted members of the congregation to determine where this immense act of charity could be situated, and they recommended this measure to ease the burden of Iowans who, like many Americans, are over-burdened with unpaid medical bills exacerbated by the state of the coronavirus pandemic. The congregation recommended the charity as the best use of funds to help the most people, echoing a similar initiative enacted by John Oliver of Last Week Tonight back in 2016.

Here’s the kicker, though: while the debt amounts to $5 million, RIP Medical Debt purchased it for roughly $8,000. This startling figure clarifies the mechanism by which debt is bought and sold between companies and then extorted from its debtors over time.

The Des Moines Register spoke with Rev. Bothwell, and described Capitol Hill’s congregation as inclusive of many refugees and immigrants who had intimate experience with economic hardship. Now their gesture ensures that countless Iowans can enter the new year with considerable relief from that significant stress.

Rev. Bothwell has the distinction of being one of the Des Moines metro area’s youngest and most progressive pastors, becoming active in concerns ranging from climate change, gun violence, immigrant and refugee advocacy, and the LGBTQ community.

This medical debt clearance seems to be just the start, as the Des Moines Church is no raising its sights on the adjoining state of Missouri, where they hope to raise $15,000 in funds to clear their debt in the coming months. Donations to this wonderful cause can be made at this link.

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