Orange County to consider clearing $8.7 million in medical debt

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A quarter million people in Orange County are still dealing with medical debt left behind by the Covid-19 pandemic, but there could be a solution.


Orange County Commissioners are considering using close to $9 million in leftover American Rescue Plan Act funds to clear debt for Orange County Residents.

The county needs to use all their leftover funds by the end of 2026 and must reallocate a total of $23 million that was never spent during the covid years.

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Commissioners are considering several projects including using about $5 million to fund affordable housing, $4.3 million to fund mental health and homeless initiatives, and $1 million to address food insecurity.

The county is also looking at using the funds to build a new fire station, invest in career assistance for residents, and clear medical debt.

“I think it’s on us to pursue the feasibility of doing it.  What would logistics look like? Would we do it in house? Would we outsource it,” said Orange County Commissioner Mike Scott.

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Scott said commissioners will attend a separate briefing in the coming weeks to learn more specifics about the possible medical debt relief program.

One Orange County mother said she racked up about $15,000 in medical debt after her tourism job took a hit and she was left with mounting bills from dealing with long covid.

“It’s a question of, do you feed your family? Do you get electricity and water? Or do you pay your copay,” said Orange County Resident Eimear Roy, “I hate being in this situation. I hope all of us can get some help.”

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Roy said clearing the debt would allow her to resume treatment for symptoms ranging from dizziness to memory loss and heart palpitations. She said she had to put her health needs on the backburner to feed her two kids and keep up housing payments.

“Working class people have not been looked after. And the federal funds that were supposed to reach us didn’t,” said Roy, “You just want to have enough money to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head.”

Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the project contenders for leftover ARPA funds during a board session on February 20th.

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