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Lee County churches, non-profit help more than 2,000 patients by paying their medical debt

Right now, millions of Americans are drowning in medical debt. But, some local churches are working to pay off some of those bills.

Keep an eye out for a yellow envelope in your mailbox in the week ahead.

More than 2,000 patients in Lee County with medical debt in collections are about to have that burden wiped away.

“It could be a neighbor next door or a neighbor down the street,” said Ann Grandell, the executive director at Love Inc.

She works with Lee County patients who can’t afford their medical bills frequently.

“It’s hard not to get depressed right along with them,” she said.

In Lee County alone, there is about $4.7 million in medical debt in collections. Grandell is working with Terry Smith and a number of churches to pay that off.

“I think it’s the greatest blessing there is to be able to help your neighbor,” said Smith.

Through donations from several churches, they’re working with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt to buy that burden for pennies on the dollar and bring some relief to Southwest Florida.

“We’re talking about $28 million in medical debt across 11 counties in SWFL that can all be purchased for $280,000,” said Smith.

This will help 4,000 families in Lee County, 4,200 in Charlotte County and 4,000 more in Collier County.

“And they got that medical debt through no fault of their own,” said Smith.

They’re not alone.

One out of five Americans has medical collections on their credit report, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

A problem Grandell hopes a little generosity can change.

“When you ask God to come in, He can do amazing things,” she said.

Smith says to keep an eye out for a yellow envelope in the week ahead if you live in Lee County.

For more information on how to donate and learn how recipients are chosen, click here.

Writer:Briana Harvath
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