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Allies Essential to Victory
As you will be learning from an increasing number of news articles (the June 14 article from The Hill being the most prominent) and podcast intervi...

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My Life is a Drain on My Family

Our floor is gone in the bathroom, the back deck is falling in, there is a hole in the kitchen floor, the toilet in the basement is broken, the house needs an overhaul, there are broken windows, the garage needs repair, the yard is terrible… …and...

Marshall Allen – We Veterans Hardly Knew Ye

(News article May 21, 2024– Marshall Allen, a Tenacious Health Care Journalist, Dies at 52)

One of the major commitments we made when founding End Veteran Debt (EVD) was not only to forgive noxious debt, but to proactively educate men and women of the military how to avoid financial pitfalls and scams that lead to debt. Let’s call that veteran financial literacy.

If worse came to worse in financial disputes and cannot find immediate help within the VA or veteran circles – we would have a champion engage with charlatans or functionaries on the veteran’s behalf.

EVD specifically invited three nationally known healthcare luminaries to serve as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to educate – and engage with – veterans dealing with recalcitrant healthcare vendors. For the insurance industry, we chose whistle-blower Wendell Potter of the Center for Health and Democracy. For health literacy, the wizard of infallible healthcare information, Al Lewis of Quizzify. For toe-to-toe pugilism with hospitals and large medical practices, we chose the author of Never Pay the First Bill and founder of Allen Healthcare Academy, Marshall Allen. 

Fate would have otherwise with Marshall.

This last guy, bulldog of consumer rights Marshall Allen, passed away earlier this month (see article above) from a heart attack at the age of 52. This was a terrible loss on all levels, and his will be difficult shoes to fill.

In his memory, I would like to tell you why…and also why EVD has gone out of its way to put in place healthcare mentors on a veteran-centric site. There really shouldn’t be any need for them, as America’s veterans get lifetime healthcare from the Va, right? Not always, not without jumping through hoops, and sometimes not ever. For the veteran’s spouse and children, it’s even more grim.

They need someone to fight for them. There are no unconstrained and passionate veteran advocates within the VA. If there were, we wouldn’t need the DAV, Wounded Warriors, American Legion, VFW, Amvets, Fisher House, and a multitude of lawyers, advisors, and charities that fight to see that veterans get the healthcare services they deserve and without delay.

Good luck on that. The VA has as of January this year, a backlog of 400,000 claims.

Marshall was singular in being a one-man civilian ally. He was there for anyone fighting against “the system,” but because of his pride in the military members in his family tree was especially available to vets.

From ProPublica reporter to healthcare activist

I first connected with Marshall in 2019 on LinkedIn when he noticed that the charity I co-founded, RIP Medical Debt, had worked with his former church (Christian Assembly in Los Angeles) to abolish debt in Los Angeles

We became email and phone-friends and he tapped my industry expertise for chapter four in Never Pay the First Bill titled “How to Handle Medical Debt Collectors.” I consider it to be the best 18-pages existing anywhere that can help someone grapple with a bill collector and have the odds in their favor.

In April of 2023 I brought a veteran to Marshall’s attention – a Brian Ridzy who contacted my Veteran Mission Possible (VMP) site stating: Hello, my name is Brian. I am a Gulf War Disabled Veteran. Yes, I am Proud NAVY! 

He then describes his problem with BCBS and another insurance company that had discovered that through an internal error they were mistakenly approving and paying his claims, and they wanted that money back. 

$110,000 worth – and the winner is…

Marshall took on the challenge, using the revenue from his newsletter subscriptions to pay for an experienced veteran advocate to dig into the facts and start the insurers to reluctantly reverse their decision.

Fast forward almost exactly one year to April 23, 2024 and this is what Allen was able to post: Health Insurer Admits “Mistake” – and Still Sticks Disabled Veteran With $110,000 in medical bills. Brian was free and clear, and Marshall took a victory lap and thanked his followers.

“All that work has been funded by the paid subscribers of this newsletter. Thank you! Want to take part in something bigger than yourself? Join us now as a paid subscriber! We’re just getting started! The Allen Healthcare Academy was (?) is the real thing.

Brian Ridzy was the first veteran that EVD asked Marshall to help, and his last. Until a new hero steps up. 

To quote Marshall, “Do you want to take part in something bigger than yourself?”

Jerry Ashton

End Veteran Debt & co-founder, RIP Medical Debt