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About our Fundraiser:

For this year's Jeremy Nowak Urban Innovation Award, The Philadelphia Citizen, with the generous support of Spring Point Partners, has donated $25,000 to seed a medical debt relief campaign for Philadelphians in need. We are joined in this effort by philanthropists Pat Croce, Richard Vague and Jeff Brown/Brown’s ShopRite, who have combined to contribute an additional $37,500.

Together, that will eliminate $6.25 million of medical debt in Philadelphia. 

With your help, we can do even more.

In the Philadelphia region, 1.1 million people owe a combined total of nearly $650 million in outstanding medical bills. In a city where nearly one in four people live in poverty, that debt can make financial solvency impossible to attain. It can destroy a family’s credit rating and prevent them from accessing loans, housing, and employment. People with medical debt are also less likely to seek medical care or fill prescriptions. 

In this way, medical debt not only destroys well-being and economic security—it can kill.

The nonprofit RIP Medical Debt disrupts this cycle.

How you can help:

The Philadelphia Citizen and our partners have taken the first step by seeding the campaign with a $62,500 donation.

Now, we’re inviting you to join this historic effort to relieve the burden of healthcare costs for low-income Philadelphians with your donation. The best part: Every $1 you donate translates to $100 in medical debt relief, right here in Philadelphia.

Recipients will receive a yellow envelope from RIP Medical Debt in the mail, with a letter informing them that their debt has been bought by a third party and erased with no strings attached. They owe nothing on the debt, and face no tax penalty.

Every dollar you contribute is an investment in Philadelphia: Money will stay in the community instead of being taken by out-of-state debt collectors. 

In the spirit of our 3rd Annual Ideas We Should Steal Festival and The Citizen’s commitment to innovative problem-solving, we invite you to contribute to this groundbreaking campaign.

Thank you,

The Philadelphia Citizen Team

To learn more about RIP Medical Debt, read our coverage here and be sure to join us virtually at this year’s Ideas We Should Steal Festival, December 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd, from 5:30-7:30 pm. Buy your tickets here.


RIP Medical Debt’s Solution: RIP Medical Debt uses donations to purchase bundled medical debt portfolios that have gone through collection agencies for months or years. Using third-party credit data providers, it targets debt incurred by people facing financial hardship, and then forgives it. On average, $1 is leveraged to abolish $100 in medical debt.

Please see the full RIP FAQ below and visit www.ripmedicaldebt.org for more information. 


Want to make a donation by cash or check?

Please mail to to any cash or check (payable to "RIP Medical Debt") to the address below and make sure to notate on the memo line or letter that your gift is designated to "Philadelphia Citizen Campaign."

RIP Medical Debt  / 80 Theodore Fremd Ave. Rye, NY 10580 

Who is RIP Medical Debt? RIP Medical Debt (RIP) is a national 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to empower donors to forgive the billions of dollars in oppressive medical debt at pennies on the dollar. RIP locates, buys, and abolishes destructive medical debt for individuals, veterans, and families. Since inception in 2014, RIP has relieved more than $600 million in medical debt for individuals across the U.S., impacting over 250,000 individuals.

How Does RIP Medical Debt Work? RIP, working with third-party credit data providers, searches through large debt portfolios to locate accounts meeting their criteria for relief. RIP then negotiates to buy millions of dollars of this debt at a steep discount, usually a penny or less on the dollar.

Facts about Medical Debt

  • 42.9 million Americans have unpaid medical bills, which creates an adverse impact on debtor patients, physicians, and hospitals (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
  • Six in 10 of both insured and uninsured people say they have difficulty in paying other bills as a result of medical debt. Over a third were unable to pay for food, heat or housing because of medical bills. (Kaiser Family Foundation & New York Times)
  • Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults under age 65, or 116 million people, had medical bill problems or debt, went without needed care because of cost, were uninsured for a time or were underinsured — insured but had high out-of-pocket medical expenses or deductibles relative to income. (Kaiser Family Foundation & New York Times)
  • Medical debt contributes to more than 60 percent of the bankruptcies in the U.S. Until satisfied, debt lingers on a person’s credit report to negatively impact their ability to buy a home, get a loan or even gain employment. (The American Journal of Medicine)

Whose unpayable medical bills does RIP forgive?

  • Individuals who make less than 2 times the federal poverty level
  • Individuals with financial hardship - 5% or more of their annual income goes to out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Individuals who are insolvent (debts greater to their assets)

Why Donate to RIP Medical Debt?

  • Your dollar goes a long way! On average, $1 abolishes $100 of debt.
  • 100 percent of your donation goes towards abolishing medical debt.
  • RIP Medical Debt is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and our EIN number is 47-1442997. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
  • We have specific programs for veterans and active service members of the US military.
  • There are no tax consequences for those whose medical debts are forgiven. The forgiveness is a gift from a detached and disinterested third party (RIP) is an act of generosity, so forgiveness of the
  • does not count as being income to the gift recipient.

RIP Medical Debt's Federal Tax ID: 47-1442997