Empowering Health Care Consumers

Project Title

Building a Coalition for the End Medical Debt in New York Campaign

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Empowering Health Care Consumers

Date Awarded

March 15, 2022







Close to half of all New Yorkers experience a health care affordability burden and struggle to pay medical bills, resulting in delayed care or skipped medications.

In 2020, 6% of New Yorkers were put into collections over medical bills—with double that rate for people of color in parts of the State. Low-income communities and communities of color outside of New York City have been particularly hard hit by unfair billing practices. The Public Policy and Education Fund of New York (PPEF), NYHealth grantees Health Care For All New York and Community Service Society of New York, and a coalition of other partners launched the End Medical Debt in New York Campaign. In 2022, NYHealth awarded PPEF a grant to further support the campaign and advocate for policy solutions that protect New Yorkers from unfair medical debt.

Under this grant, PPEF expanded the infrastructure, reach, and scale of the campaign by engaging new, diverse organizations from across the State. It hired a statewide campaign organizer to formalize the campaign and grow its membership, particularly in Central and Western New York and on Long Island, where many communities affected by medical debt are concentrated. The coalition also met regularly to plan collective advocacy to achieve campaign goals, which may include data analysis and policy brief development; meetings with policymakers and stakeholders to cultivate campaign champions and support for policy solutions; digital and earned media; leverage of the NYHealth-funded We the Patients social media platform; direct consumer engagement and education via existing resident coalitions, door-to-door outreach, and canvassing; development and distribution of education materials; and public testimony. Finally, PPEF identified 35–40 grassroots consumer leaders and engaged them in leadership development opportunities such as letter-writing, storytelling, testifying at public hearings, and facilitating peer trainings for fellow community members.