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Senate Hearing on Medical Bankruptcies (Oct. 20, 2009) (Pottow)

posted by John Pottow

Yes, I went back to D.C. for more congressional bankruptcy brouhaha, this on the rising incidence of medical bankruptcies.  C-SPAN decided to broadcast the proceedings in all their glory.  Sen. Franken (D-MN) was armed with statistics on Swiss medical bankruptcies -- very well prepared, I must say.  Here's the video.  Hearing Ms. Burns' story about losing her son to cystic fibrosis -- and then her financial life -- was gut-wrenching.  The good news is that Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) seems motivated to pursue his bill and is gathering increasing support.  For those wanting more in-depth analysis, here's my written testimony.


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I believe all the individual bankruptcy provisions of the 2005 act should be repealed, rather than this smaller change. I also believe most of the medical bankruptcy scholarship is junk. I believe finally that the real problem is that healthcare providers' stated charges to uninsureds are grossly in excess of what they would accept from insurance companies and. to the extent we want to fix the problem of "medical bankruptcies." that is what needs to be corrected. But just as, if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, so too, if a Senator's committee has jurisdiction over bankruptcy, s/he needs to make a problem seem like a bankruptcy problem so that s/he can look like a hero.

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