Local church helps wipe out $1.3 million in medical debt for Atlanta families

Local church helps wipe out $1.3 million in medical debt for Atlanta families
The church wiped out $1.3 million in medical debt for more than 1,200 south DeKalb residents just in time for the holidays. (WSB-TV)

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — People in south DeKalb County got a big surprise to kick off the new year: relief from millions of dollars in medical debt.

A donation from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church wiped out $1.3 million in medical debt for more than 1,200 south DeKalb residents just in time for the holidays, the church announced Tuesday.

Senior pastor Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant directed the relief to people who live in the 20028 ZIP code, which includes Stonecrest and Lithonia. Bryant said he hopes it helps families get a better start in 2020.

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“We are blessed to be a blessing and this effort has truly helped families start the new year without the stress, worry and concern that often accompanies looming medical bills and calls from debt collectors,” Bryant said. “When a medical issue occurs, the subsequent bills can wreak havoc on a family’s finances, leading some down a path of bad credit, or left with reservations about even seeking medical attention for fear of the costs for services.”

The church partners with nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, which takes donations from organizations and buys medical debt at a huge discount.

New Birth launched its medical debt relief efforts in December 2019, just in time for a Christmas surprise.

“Thanks to the generous donations from the New Birth congregation, we were able to surprise families around the holidays with news that their medical bills have been totally forgiven,” Bryant said. “We wanted this effort to specifically impact those in the Stonecrest area and provide some needed relief as we enter into an exciting new year and decade.”

The New Birth donation wasn’t the only one that eased the burden on Atlanta families this year. Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, through the Trae Young Foundation, partnered with RIP Medical Debt to erase $1 million in medical debt.