February 16, 2018

Around the nation: Seattle TV station buys $1M in medical debt

Daily Briefing

    After reporting on a cancer patient who struggled to afford treatment, a Seattle-based TV station worked with a charity that buys and forgives medical debt, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Maryland, Missouri, and Washington.

    • Maryland: First Lady Melania Trump spent time on Valentine's Day with children who are participating in clinical trials at NIH. On Wednesday, Trump visited the Children's Inn, a private nonprofit facility on the NIH campus, to hand out cards from the White House and decorate heart-shaped cookies. Trump is focusing her attention as first lady on children's wellbeing (Bennett, CNN, 2/14).

    • Missouri: Mercy has chosen Marc Gunter to serve as the first president of Mercy Clinic. Mercy Clinic, originally formed by combining seven physician organizations, now includes more than 2,100 physicians and 1,200 other health care providers. Gunter has been with Mercy since 1997 (Vaidya, Becker's Hospital Review, 2/14).

    • Washington: Seattle TV station KIRO has purchased $1 million in medical debt, which it will forgive. The station paid $12,000 for the debt after reporter Jesse Jones reported on a woman with cancer who was unable to afford treatment she needed to survive. According to KIRO, a collection agency that takes medical bill debt from providers had the debt, which is sold for about 1 cent per dollar. KIRO worked with an organization called RIP Medical Debt that "locates, buys, and forgives medical debt across America" (Savransky, The Hill, 2/14).

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