NEWS
December 27, 2018

MI Nurses Association Cancels $8.9 Million Debt For Patients

MI Nurses Association Cancels $8.9 Million Debt For Patients

By Chaunie Brusie

If you’re looking for a story to restore your hope in humankind this holiday season, do we have one for you — the Michigan Nurses Association, the state’s largest nursing union organization with headquarters in Okemos, MI, announced on Friday, December 20th in the midst of a candlelight vigil, that they would be donating money to cancel 8.9 million dollars’ worth of medical debt. 

Yes, you read that right. 8.9 million dollars’ worth of medical debt, gone. Merry Christmas, indeed! 

According to a press release on the MNA website, the candlelight vigil was an event called “Hope for the Holidays” that took place outside of the Grand Traverse County courthouse in Traverse City in support of a fair contract for nurses at Munson hospital, as well as fair treatment for Munson patients facing financial challenges. 

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Who This Will Help

The generous donation will go towards helping 9,200 individuals and families total across 40 counties in northern Michigan, including wiping out $2.9 million in medical debt for residents of neighboring Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Manistee and Wexford counties in northwestern Michigan. 

To accomplish their lofty goal of completely eliminating 8.9 million dollars’ worth of medical debt, MNA partnered with RIP Medical Debt, a New York organization that assists families and individuals in clearing and canceling medical debt through charitable donations. MNA has worked with RIP Medical Debt previously, back in 2014, when they were able to cancel 1 million dollars’ worth of debt through the organization. I guess you could say in only four short years, that they have seriously upped their Christmas game. 

Jerry Ashton, Executive Vice President and co-founder of RIP Medical Debt commented on the continued partnership of MNA and their organization in the press release, noting how honored they were to work with nurses on the ground level of serving patients: “We’re thrilled to continue working with the Michigan Nurses Association,” he said. “Nurses do incredibly important work on the ground with patients and are the best barometer of undue hardships in healthcare. We salute this important campaign.”

RIP Medical Debt is able to accomplish its mission of eliminating medical debt by purchasing it for a fraction of its cost. Therefore, the sum of $12,500 from the MNA, courtesy of its members, as well as donors, was able to eliminate the drastic sum of debt. Just like holiday cheer can be spread by “singing loud for all to hear”, apparently so can clearing that medical debt when you’re willing to work hard. 

The organization also works to ensure that the medical debts being eliminated are those for individuals and families in the most need through strategic criteria that includes filtering towards those earning less than twice the federal poverty level, medical debt greater than 5 percent of their total income, and anyone facing insolvency as a result of medical debt.

MNA made the official announcement about the impressive holiday donation during the vigil and shared the moment live, with a moving video posted to their Facebook page highlighting the moment when Munson nurses themselves shared the good news. Commenters watching the video in real-time shared in the excitement of the announcement, writing in things like, “Amazing!! Proud to be a nurse in Michigan!!” and “This is phenomenal!!!!...makes me wanna cry to hear such a blessing for all those people!...thanks for sharing this Ana(my favorite RN💖)....this is a wonderful gift.......”

Munson Medical made the announcement

Munson nurses were the ones to make the announcement because MNA has been working closely with Munson Medical Center nurses as they have been advocating for improved treatment when needing their own medical care. Munson nurses have reported difficulty when seeking care for themselves, such as billing departments demanding money before surgery and even suggestions of dipping into their retirement funds to pay off medical bills. 

“We definitely want a better health care plan for nurses in our first contact,” detailed Nikia Parker, an RN with MMC, in the press release. “When nurses know we can take care of ourselves and our families without financial hardship, then we’re better able to focus on taking care of our patients.”

As one commenter on the video announcement noted, sometimes it takes nurses to be the advocates not just for their patients, but when the patients are nurses too: “Very proud to be a Michigan nurse, goes to show you nurses ARE the ultimate patient advocates!!!!”

Sounds like we can all use a nurse in our corner when we need a helping hand — and if it just so happens to be around the holidays, well then, we’ll just chalk that up to a Christmas miracle this year. 

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