[ExI] from Premium This is True

Dave Sill sparge at gmail.com
Tue Dec 22 19:15:54 UTC 2020


John Oliver on HBO uses RIP to Forgive nearly $15M in Medical Debt for
9,000 Americans.
The 20-minute “Debt Buying” segment originated June 5, 2016, on Last Week
Tonight with John Oliver.

NEW YORK — A June 5 segment of the HBO hit comedy series, Last Week Tonight
with John Oliver, featured the RIP Medical Debt charity forgiving nearly
$15 million worth of donated medical debt for around 9,000 people — a new
giveaway record for American television. John Oliver brought attention to
debt industry abuses and the specific issue of unpaid medical debt.

John Oliver reported that American households collectively owe more than
$12 trillion in debt, with $436 billion at least 90 days overdue. He
presented LWT’s investigation of the debt buying industry, airing video
from a hidden camera at a professional conference. A debt buyer on the
platform observed how debtors are ignorant of their rights as consumers.

Oliver set out to show how “disturbingly easy” it is to start a company
that can purchase debt cheaply and collect it aggressively, including debt
no longer due under law. LWT registered a debt-buying company in
Mississippi for $50, naming John Oliver as the Chairman of the Board,
calling the company Central Asset Recovery Professionals, Inc. — CARP, the
bottom-feeding fish.

CARP located and purchased from Texas for about $60,000 a medical debt
portfolio worth $14,922,261.76 — paying less than a half-cent on the
dollar. Oliver said the portfolio held the names, current addresses and
Social Security numbers for about 9.000 accounts. CARP could legally send
collection agents to hound these people. Oliver and LWT instead donated
that $14.9 million portfolio to the debt-forgiving charity, RIP Medical

In the finale, John Oliver stood before a wildly cheering live studio
audience with millions watching on TV and online. Amid a triumphant fanfare
he grandly pushed a giant red button. Dazzling lights flashed as paper
bills fluttered down like confetti. John Oliver through RIP instantly
abolished nearly $15 million in unpaid medical debt. Gone. For good.

John Oliver’s giveaway surpassed Oprah Winfrey’s 2004 TV record of giving
almost $8 million worth of GM cars to everybody in her audience, creating
the iconic “You get a car!” meme. RIP’s forgiveness of LWT’s “$15 million”
worth of medical debt set a new record for television.

“This is only going to help the 9,000 people whose medical debt we bought,”
Oliver remarked at the outset of the blowoff. “The larger issue is, we need
much clearer rules and tougher oversight to protect consumers from
potentially predatory companies like the one we set up.”

RIP Medical Debt board member Robert Goff blogged that RIP deeply
appreciates national awareness of medical debt. “We are grateful for an
opportunity to be involved with a comedian who wanted to give 9,000 people
the last laugh.”

On Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 12:47 PM Adrian Tymes via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> They're not the first I've heard doing it.
> https://money.cnn.com/2016/06/06/technology/john-oliver-medical-debt/index.html
> is a famous instance of this from a few years ago.
> On Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 9:11 AM William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> *This sounds terrific, but of course I cannot vouch for the organization
>> whose link is below:*
>> *Love Thy Neighbor:* The Rev. Minna Bothwell asked the congregation of
>> the Capitol Hill Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa, to think about how
>> the church could expand their mission. What nonprofit could they fund that
>> would be in keeping with their Biblical ideals? The congregation suggested
>> an organization that buys up medical debt, and then forgives the people who
>> owed it: they walk away with no debt, and no more creditors calling. The
>> church called RIP Medical Debt and asked “how much money it would take to
>> forgive all the medical debt in Polk County,” Bothwell said. “They
>> responded, ‘With what you have, you could forgive [medical] debt in all of
>> Iowa’.” It only took about $8,000 for the church to fund the organization
>> in buying up $5 million worth of medical debt owed by Iowans. “We’ve seen
>> firsthand what debt has done to families, and how hard it can be,” Rev.
>> Bothwell said. It was so easy, the church is now raising $15,000 to zero
>> out all the medical debt in Missouri. “2020 has been a rough year for
>> everyone,” she said. “Our goal as a congregation is to give people a good
>> start on 2021.
>> https://ripmedicaldebt.org/about/
>> bill w
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