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Local Government Uses American Rescue Plan Funds To Erase Medical Debt
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Local Government Uses American Rescue Plan Funds To Erase Medical Debt

An Ohio city councilwoman passed legislation allocating American Rescue Plan funds to wipe out medical debt in her community.

This story contains a correction.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) allocated millions of dollars to local communities to promote equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This enabled local officials such as Michele Grim from Toledo, Ohio, to implement creative solutions to the challenges their communities face.

With a background in public health, Michele Grim saw the need for people like her to run for elected office during the pandemic. Upon being elected to the Toledo City Council, Michele looked to funds from the American Rescue Plan to implement a solution to her community’s growing medical debt. After partnering with Lucas County and the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, both the city of Toledo and the state of Ohio dedicated a combined total of $1.6 million in ARP funding to purchase $190 million to $240 million in community medical debt. This will relieve debt burdens for around 41,000 Ohioans. Since the plan’s announcement, dozens of local governments have reached out to Michele with an interest in replicating the Toledo model in communities across the country.

Medical debt is a uniquely American problem; everybody knows somebody who has medical debt, it spans every part of the economic system, and it’s the number one reason for bankruptcy. Our plan brings a 1-to-100 return on investment. I can’t think of a better program coming from the American Rescue Plan, and I can’t think of a better application than relieving medical debt. Michele Grim
Michele Grim pictured in November 2022. (Photo credit: Michele Grim)

While the country is on its way to recovering from the pandemic’s economic downturn, that the pandemic affected certain populations more than others.* To address these disparities, the Biden administration enacted the American Rescue Plan, extending more assistance to Americans still struggling to recover. Initiatives such as the one implemented by Michele Grim exemplify how government can solve the issues facing the most vulnerable Americans.

* Correction, March 7, 2023: This story has been updated to clarify that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been disproportionate.

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