Tags: occupy | wall | street | buys | medical | debt

Occupy Wall Street Buys $14.7M of Americans' Medical Debt

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 03:14 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Occupy Wall Street's Strike Debt group has bought $14.7 million worth of Americans' personal medical debt.

The effort was carried out as part of its Rolling Jubilee project, a debt forgiveness initiative that was started last year and has thus far erased the medical debts of some 2,693 people nationwide, Reuters reported. As part of its core principals, Occupy Wall Street members believe all medical services should be free.

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The progressive organization announced the debt payment on Monday, posting on its website: "Think of it as a bailout of the 99 percent by the 99 percent."

The nearly $15 million medical debt was purchased for a payment of $400,000, according to Rolling Jubilee project organizers. Lenders were willing to sell the debt in some cases for less than five cents on the dollar since there was little chance they would ever be paid back in full.

The project was launched on Nov. 15, 2012, allowing individuals to donate money knowing that the funds would be used directly to purchase distressed and defaulted debt from the lenders, Reuters reported. The Occupy Wall Street spinoff group does not deal directly with debtors.

Occupy's Strike Debt member and New York University professor Andrew Ross told Reuters that the group was able to purchase the debt at a 50:1 ratio.

According to Ross, the debtors' personal information was not provided to the group by the lender, with the exception of the individual's address. The Occupy Wall Street's Strike Debt group used those addresses to send a letter to each former debtor informing them that they no longer owed any money on their prior medical procedure while providing details about the project behind the generous gesture.

"One person wrote back and said that he had gone through periods of being homeless and he was trying to get back on his feet," Ross told Reuters.

Occupy's Strike Debt group has an additional $200,000 remaining in its coffer which Ross says it plans to put toward purchasing student loan debt in the future.

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