This is an MLK weekend more than 11,000 families in St. Louis City and County won't soon forget as the United Church of Christ blessed them with a cure for their medical debt. It took $100,000 -- UCC church bodies donated $60,000, along with a $40,000 donation from Deaconess Foundation to buy and abolish that $12.9 million in medical debt and help make these families whole. The families, who are or near Medicaid-eligible, will receive notices of the debt forgiveness this weekend.
"This endeavor is the intent of the United Church of Christ to make this tangible ministry of debt abolishment in our denominational regions another expression of the ways we seek to live out our commitment to Three Great Loves -- Love of Neighbor, Love of Children, Love of Creation -- and call attention to the impact of the failure to expand Medicaid in Missouri on poor families," said Rev. Traci Blackmon, senior pastor of Christ the King UCC and associate general minister of UCC Justice and Local Church Ministries.
Rev. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation, said "We recognize access to health care is a persistent challenge for the 1 in 5 children living in poverty in the St. Louis region.
"Furthermore, medical debt is a drag on family stability and economic mobility for these families."
They worked with the New York based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to forgive that debt.
A press conference today with local and national church leaders announced more details of their endeavor to remove medical debt for families.