Organization That Received “Last Week Tonight” Portfolio Shares Their Experience, Outlook

Calling it “fortunate” and “serendipitous,” the pair of former collection industry professionals behind RIP Medical Debt talked about the huge influx of support that they have received in the days following their participation in an episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”

In the episode, host John Oliver detailed how a company was formed, Central Asset Recovery Professionals, and then the company subsequently purchased a portfolio of nearly $15 million of out-out-statute medical debt from individuals in Texas, for about $60,000. The portfolio was then transferred to RIP Medical Debt, an organization that seeks to buy healthcare debt so it can be forgiven.

The plan all along was the donate the portfolio to some charitable organization so the debts could be forgiven, said Jerry Ashton, one of the co-founders of RIP Medical Debt. It just so happened that staffers at the show learned about RIP Medical Debt and ended up partnering with the organization.

“We fit the bill better than the plan they had,” Ashton said today during a phone interview with Also on the call was Craig Antico, the CEO of RIP Medical Debt. “We are fortunate bystanders to become involved in the show.”

In the four days since the show aired on Sunday, June 12, donations to the organization have “increased tremendously,” Antico said, including a $10,000 donation which was sent in yesterday. Individuals in countries like England and Australia, which have socialized healthcare programs, have sent in donations, the pair said.

RIP Medical Debt raises money so it can go out and purchase portfolios of medical debt and forgive them, removing the financial burden from individuals with unpaid healthcare bills. The portfolio purchased by “Last Week Tonight” included unpaid debts for 9,000 individuals in Texas.

Antico said that the organization will likely be sending letters to the 9,000 individuals later this month to notify them that they are no longer responsible for the debts that were part of the portfolio.

“We’re not talking about people with widescreen TVs here,” Ashton said. “We’re talking about people who were diagnosed with multiple myeloma.”

Along with raising awareness of the organization, Ashton said he hopes that people in the industry will walk away from this affair knowing that there is someone out there that is trying to help consumers and is not the enemy of debt buyers.

“We’re the byproduct of a system that is broken,” Ashton said, referring to the healthcare industry. “We’re trying to drive a stake through the heart of zombie debt.”

There are millions of people who are afraid to answer the phone because of unpaid medical debts, and those unpaid debts are the only blackmarks on their credit reports, Antico said.

“How many people in our industry turn a blind eye in the other direction so they don’t see what’s going on,” Ashton said. “We want the industry to work with us instead of considering us a gadfly or an irritant.”

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