Return to the Full Article View You can republish this story for free. Click the "Copy HTML" button below. Questions? Get more details.

‘An Arm And A Leg’: Tradition Grows Into $1 Million Gift For People In Medical Debt

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen.

Every year — for decades — the Buehler family and friends have organized a softball tournament in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area to raise money for someone with big medical expenses.

“It’s like a holiday for us in the family,” Ed Buehler, 40, said. “You know, another one that just happens to come in July.”

The tournament started in 1980 as a fundraiser for Ed’s dad, Denny Buehler, who was battling leukemia and needed to travel to Seattle for treatment. The tournament typically raises about $10,000 each year.

“I don’t want to say $10,000 is not a lot of money,” Ed Buehler said. “But life is hard, and when something’s gotten in your way, $10,000 doesn’t go really, really far.”

In 2019, inspired by RIP Medical Debt, the Denny Buehler Memorial Foundation took on a new project. The foundation decided to buy up old medical debt — at pennies on the dollar — to pay off $1 million in debt for neighbors in the Cincinnati community.

In early December, the foundation met its fundraising goal and has plans to keep going.

This story has it all: softball, beer, late-night TV host John Oliver and a punk-rock singer turned Girl Scouts mom. And victories … for scores of people who had carried old debt for years.

Season 3 is a co-production of Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.

To keep in touch with “An Arm and a Leg,” subscribe to the newsletter. You can also follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. And if you’ve got stories to tell about the health care system, the producers would love to hear from you.

To hear all Kaiser Health News podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to “An Arm and a Leg” on iTunesPocket CastsGoogle Play or Spotify.

Some elements may be removed from this article due to republishing restrictions. If you have questions about available photos or other content, please contact khnweb@kff.org.