Beloved mother, wife, and book publisher Casey McIntyre’s dying wish was to help erase others’ medical debt.
Two months after her passing, approximately $150 million in medical debt has been forgiven.
McIntyre was 38 years old when she died from stage four ovarian cancer in November 2023. In her final days, she wrote her own eulogy and final wishes, creating a fundraiser with nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, to which loved ones could donate and honor her legacy.
“To celebrate my life, I’ve arranged to buy up others’ medical debt and then destroy the debt,” a final farewell letter stated. “I am so lucky to have access to the best medical care at [Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center] and am keenly aware that so many in our country don’t have access to good care.”
The fundraiser started with a $20,000 goal, which McIntyre — and her husband, Andrew Rose Gregory — never imagined would be considered humble.
McIntyre’s final wishes went viral, and the fundraiser began seeing donations come in at a near-constant pace. As of January 10, 2024, just shy of two months since McIntyre’s death, the campaign has raised over $1 million.
A major benefit of working with RIP Medical Debt is that the organization purchases medical debt at cost. This means that for every $100 donated, RIP Medical Debt is able to relieve $10,000 in debt.
Gregory has been sharing regular updates about the fundraiser on his social media, and on January 8, celebrated the latest milestone.
“Oh btw Casey’s debt jubilee has now raised almost 1.1 million dollars which may lead to more than $150,000,000 (!!!!) of medical debt being forgiven depending on fluctuating debt prices,” he tweeted.
This also came on the heels of his invitation to be a special guest of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy at the annual State of the State address.
“[Gov. Murphy] is going to be talking about Casey’s debt jubilee, which is incredibly moving to Casey’s family and me,” Gregory tweeted.
The governor also spoke about the issue of medical debt for those in the state of New Jersey.
“Nobody should have to worry about being able to afford critical health care services or a life-saving medical procedure, but sadly that is a reality for too many in New Jersey,” Gov. Murphy said in the address.
“More than one in 10 of our neighbors has medical debt in collections. That number is even higher in communities of color, and we know that when someone is saddled with medical debt, they are less likely to seek medical care because they worry about being harassed by predatory debt collectors… Lives are needlessly put at risk. That is dangerous and it is wrong,” he continued.
Last year, New Jersey invested $10 million into a medical debt relief program, which could relieve up to $100 (or more) in debt for every $1 spent.
Still, fundraisers and campaigns like McIntyre’s make a huge difference for people in the state and beyond.
“We thank you, Andrew, and we pray for your blessed wife’s memory,” Gov. Murphy said in his address. “Your efforts are a lesson in empathy, and it is a lesson those of us in power must take to heart... Let us work together to ensure our neighbors don’t have to start a GoFundMe campaign just to afford potentially life-saving health care.”
While systemic progress is incrementally made, from state houses in New Jersey, to the halls of Congress, it’s people like McIntyre — and now Gregory, who carries the torch — to help others facing extreme medical costs in the meantime.
Earlier in December, Gregory shared the words that define the ongoing campaign.
“We feel that our life is empty without Casey,” he wrote. “But it gives those that loved her some measure of comfort that so many are being freed from their medical debt because of her.”
Header images courtesy of Andrew Rose Gregory