AUSTIN-TX Press Release


Strike Debt, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, has abolished $13.5 million worth of medical debt, with $7.5 million of that debt coming from 1,676 people in Texas. “No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy to pay for basic needs like health care,” said Laura Hanna an organizer with Strike Debt in New York, noting that 62% of all bankruptcies have medical debt as a contributing factor.

Hospitals, like banks and credit card companies, sell unpaid debts to debt collectors for pennies on the dollar. The Rolling Jubilee, one project of Strike Debt, used some of those pennies to abolish these medical debts. “This debt is a little piece of someone’s life, a little bit of their misery, and it gets bought and sold to make a profit,” said Hanna.

“The problem is our privatized health care system which is designed to make profits for the insurance industry while failing to meet patients’ health needs, all while burying many in debt that they’ll never be able to pay” said Hannah Appel, an organizer with Strike Debt.

Organizers in Austin are planning a debtors’ assembly on November 15 at Trinity United Methodist on November, and 16 a debtors’ carnival in Rosewood Park, near Rosewood and Pleasant Valley to call attention to they way our economic system buries ordinary people in debt—to enrich the 1%.

Texans whose debt has been abolished will receive a letter in the mail informing them of the good news. Strike Debt has raised more than $600,000 and to date has abolished over $14.7MM worth of debt.

Strike Debt started in May in New York and has now spread to cities across the country. People can download the Strike Debt Organizers Kit from strikedebt.org to learn how to create a debtors assembly. The site’s Debt Resistors Operations Manual explains how debt works, how to protect yourself, and how to fight back. It contains a chapter on medical debt.

Strike Debt is working towards building a new kind of collective power in order to challenge exploitation by the financial industry. “Debt is the way we cooperate with Wall Street,” said Thomas Gokey an organizer with Strike Debt in Tennessee, “With the Rolling Jubilee, we’ve demonstrated how little your debts are actually worth. Now that you know this, it’s time to use it as leverage. It’s time to fight back. The Rolling Jubilee needs to roll into larger forms of resistance and outright non-cooperation with Wall Street’s unjust debts.” Looking forward, Strike Debt is laying the groundwork for a debtors’ union capable of collective debt refusal.


Thomas Gokey
Ronnie Garza 
Maryann Philbrook

Healthcare Emergency: It’s a Matter of Life or Debt

Actions in multiple cities are planned to mark the abolition of 13.5 million dollars of medical debt belonging to 2,693 people by the Rolling Jubilee. This is the third of a series of major purchases by the group, which abolished $14.7 million of debt in the last year.
The Rolling Jubilee is a campaign that buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it. The Rolling Jubilee launched in November 2012 and went viral, raising over $600,000 and garnering attention in major media news outlets.
Doctors, nurses, patients, and citizens are coming together to declare a medical emergency:
• Our privatized healthcare system buries ordinary people in debt all to enrich the 1%. The Affordable Care Act maintains and expands this privatized system and does not solve the problem of medical debt.
• 62% of personal bankruptcies are linked to medical bills. ¾ of people who declare bankruptcy due to medical bills had health insurance when they incurred those bills.
• 86% of doctors begin their professional lives with medical school debt, a financial burden that pushes them away from serving those who need their help most.
• Community hospitals deemed “unprofitable” are being closed left and right because they have fallen too deeply into debt
In Austin there will be two events, on November 15th and 16th.
Events will take place other cities. See http://strikedebt.org/n15/ for updates

November 15th
Debtors’ Assembly and Press Conference
7pm Trinity United Methodist
4001 Speedway, Austin, TX 78751

Event Page

November 16th
Debtor’s Carnival
Rosewood Park, Austin, TX

Event Page

Come join us for a debtor’s carnival! Bring food to share if you are able, musical instruments, and your unique talents and skills to entertain and educate fellow debtors as we gather to learn about each other, how debt operates, and Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee.

Strike Debt emerged out of Occupy Wall Street and is dedicated to raising public awareness about predatory debt practices, debt resistance and mutual aid. Initiatives include publishing The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual, supporting the Occupy Student Debt Campaign, and The Rolling Jubilee, www.strikedebt.org and www.rollingjubilee.org


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