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Stacey Abrams group donates $1.34 million to help wipe out medical debts in five states

Study: Med. bills largest source of U.S. debt
Study: Med. bills largest source of U.S. debt... 04:23

Stacey Abrams' voting rights organization, Fair Fight Action, has donated more than $1 million to help fight medical debts in several states. 

The former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist founded the organization, which is now branching off to fight medical debt. The Fair Fight Political Action Committee donated $1.34 million to the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt, according to a press release.

The money will be used to settle debt originally totaling $212 million owed by 108,000 people in Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. This donation is RIP Medical Debt's third-largest gift in the organization's seven-year history and largest gift focused on the South, the press release reads.

Recipients in each state will receive various amounts of money from the donation to help cover their medical debt. "The more than 108,000 individuals will receive a letter in the coming days, contained in a yellow envelope, informing them that their debt has been relieved," the organization says.

CBS News has reached out to Fair Fight Action for more information and is awaiting response.

"I know firsthand how medical costs and a broken healthcare system put families further and further in debt," Abrams said in a statement. "Across the Sunbelt and in the South, this problem is exacerbated in states like Georgia where failed leaders have callously refused to expand Medicaid, even during a pandemic."

The activist said working with RIP Medical Debt, a charity focused on eliminating medical debt, "is stepping in where others have refused to take action."

"For people of color, the working poor and middle-class families facing crushing costs, we hope to relieve the strain on desperate Americans and on hospitals struggling to remain open," Abrams said. 

Fair Fight Action says the combined unpaid medical debt in American is now $141 billion – which is nearly double estimates from earlier this year. In the South, the amount of medical debt is 30% higher than for Northerners.

The organization said 28% of households with a Black householder and 22% of households with a householder of Hispanic origin carry medical debt. The new medical debt relief initiative is an extension of the Fair Fight's efforts to promote full Medicaid expansion across the country. 

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