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Santa Fe Church Pays Off Nearly $1.4 Million in Medical Debt for New Mexico, Arizona Families


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Almost 800 households in New Mexico and parts of Arizona no longer have to worry about their medical bills, thanks to St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  

The church found that their $15,000 donation could be multiplied many times over as they partnered with a medical debt recovery group known as RIP Medical Debt.

In a letter, St. Bede's told the Episcopal News Service how the church was able to eliminate the debt. 

"RIP identifies households whose incomes are less than twice the poverty level or are insolvent, and owe medical debt. Then they buy the debt at a fraction of face value (as a collection agency otherwise would) and pay it off using donations from people such as us)," the church wrote.

"Furthermore, they write the affected parties a letter telling them they no longer owe the debt, and equally important, contact credit agencies to verify the debt has been paid, clearing the debtor's credit history. The letter recipients receive identifies St. Bede's as the donor," the letter continued. 

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That's how St. Bede's grant of $15,000 could do so much more, clearing $1,380,119.87 in medical debt for 782 families who live in New Mexico and parts of Arizona. 

"I don't know if this parish has ever funded a program with such a great impact. We were able to do it because every week we set aside 10% of donations to the church for outreach. Prioritizing service to others is our gospel imperative," said Rev. Catherine Volland 

Recipients get a letter saying all their medical debt has been paid off, no strings attached, paid for by the congregation of St.Bede's. The church got to find out just what a great thing they'd done with letters like the one below.

"I was having a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to pay all this amount of money and it's not been easy finding a job especially when you have two kids and with this pandemic going on," the letter from one recipient read. "It has really been a very hard year for me and for everyone. I would love to thank personally that special person that helped me with my account. I am so thankful and I just want to say God bless you always."

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About The Author


Deborah Bunting is a contributing writer for who has spent decades in the field of journalism, covering everything from politics to the role of the church in our world.