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Colleges see big drop in foreign-language enrollment; Kentucky advocates say it's time to bury medical debt; Young Farmers in Michigan hope the new farm bill will include key benefits regarding land access.

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The White House presses for supplemental Ukraine aid. Leaders condemn antisemitic attacks during Gaza ceasefire protests. Despite concerns about the next election, one Arizona legal expert says courts generally side with voters and democracy.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

NC Foundation Helps Erase $2.2 Million in Medical Debt

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Wednesday, August 30, 2023   

The burden of medical debt is not so heavy anymore for some lucky North Carolina residents.

The Coastal Credit Union Foundation partnered with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to wipe away some medical bills for about 1,200 people in central North Carolina. A grant of $17,000 was used to settle nearly $2.2 million in debt.

Joe Mecca, vice president of communications for the Coastal Credit Union Foundation, said the ripple effect of medical bills can take a toll on individuals' financial and emotional well-being, so the credit union was happy to help provide a pathway to a fresh start.

"Once they're able to get back on their feet from an occupational standpoint, they still have that medical debt looming over them," Mecca observed. "Clearing that out might be enough to get them back on the path to stability."

The problem of unpaid medical debt is a pressing issue in North Carolina, which ranks among the states with the highest percentages of medical debt in the country, according to a 2022 study by The Urban Institute.

The impact of medical debt is not limited to financial strain. The stress and anxiety associated as the bills mount can affect mental health as well. Adults facing medical debt are three times more likely to experience mental health concerns, according to a University of South Florida study.

Mecca emphasized helping to clear these balances is a small investment that can make a big difference.

"For us, it's just an extension of our mission and helping people achieve overall financial wellness," Mecca added. "This is the first time we've worked with this organization, and we're just really pleased with the overall impact that they were able to achieve with a relatively small grant from Coastal."

A study by the American Economic Association, found medical debt relief not only improves a person's overall well-being, but also improves their access to health care.


Disclosure: Coastal Credit Union contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Civic Engagement, Community Issues and Volunteering, and Consumer Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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The Mecca Hills, southeast of the Coachella Valley, are part of the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument. (Bureau of Land Management)

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