Season 3, Episode 4

Canceling Debt with Allison Sesso

In the fourth episode of season 3, hosts Phil Buchanan and Grace Nicolette are joined by Allison Sesso, president and CEO of RIP Medical Debt. Allison discusses the enormous stigma and burden of medical debt in the U.S. healthcare system and provides insight into the organization’s innovative model of canceling that debt. She also pushes back on the idea that the nonprofit sector is stagnant and uninventive and shares about her organization’s experience receiving a $50 million gift from MacKenzie Scott.

Guest Info:
Allison Sesso became the President and CEO of RIP Medical Debt in January of 2020. Under Allison’s leadership and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RIP Medical Debt launched the “Helping COVID Heroes Fund” focused on relieving the medical debts of healthcare workers and emergency responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. It also benefits service workers and others facing financial hardship resulting from the COVID-induced economic downturn. Through this effort, RIP has abolished over $100 million in medical debt.

Prior to joining RIP Medical Debt, Allison served as the executive director of the Human Services Council of New York (HSC), an association of 170 nonprofits delivering 90% of human services in New York City. Allison’s work on behalf of the human services sector led to her recognition at the city and state level as a top nonprofit leader in 2018 and 2019, one of the 25 most influential leaders in Manhattan in 2017, and one of New York City’s 100 “Most Responsible” in 2016. She recently received the 100 “Most Responsible” award for the second time for her efforts at RIP Medical Debt.

Allison also serves as the Vice Chair of the nonprofit “Right to Be,” formerly Hollaback!, a global movement working to end harassment through bystander intervention training and storytelling.

Executive Producer: Sarah Martin
Audio engineer: Kevin O’Connell
Additional editing: Isabel Hibbard
Music: “FasterFasterBrighter” and “Kid Kodi” by Blue Dot Sessions
Artwork: Jay Kustka

RIP Medical Debt
Grace’s Birthday Fundraiser for Massachusetts
Upended: How Medical Debt Changed Their Lives – Kaiser Health News
The Funder – Human Services Council
RIP Medical Debt on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
On the Bring–Providers Under Pressure – SSIR