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July 23, 2009
2:56 PM

CONTACT: Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP)

David Lerner or Karmen Ross, Riptide Communications 212-260-5000

Founder of National Doctors' Group to Testify Before House Judiciary Comittee on Increasing Role of Medical Bills in Personal Bankruptcy

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, Founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and Co-author of Harvard Bankruptcy Study, Calls for Single-Payer Health Care Program

WASHINGTON - July 23 - Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and co-author of the first nationwide study on medical causes of bankruptcy, will testify next week before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, convened by Rep. John Conyers, on the alarming rise in medically related bankruptcies. Woolhandler and her co-authors at the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School and Ohio University recently published a study in the American Journal of Medicine that shows nearly two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies in 2007 were linked to medical bills or illness, and that most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class and had health insurance when they became sick. Between 2001 and 2007, the proportion of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50 percent. Dr. Woolhandler will present the findings as part of a call for a single-payer national health insurance program, a publicly funded and privately administered national health care program similar to Medicare.

According to study co-author Dr. Woolhandler, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and primary care physician in Cambridge, Mass.: "Only single-payer national health insurance can make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable by saving the hundreds of billions we now waste on insurance overhead and bureaucracy. Reforms that expand phony insurance - stripped-down plans riddled with co-payments, deductibles and exclusions - won't stem the rising tide of medical bankruptcy."



Hearing before House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law:  Medical Debt - Is Our Healthcare System Bankrupting Americans? convened by Rep. John Conyers


Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, Professor of Medicine at Harvard and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program



2141 Rayburn House Office Building


Tuesday,  July 28th ,  11 ET


Dr. Steffie Woolhandler is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the school's General Internal Medicine Fellowship program. She is also a primary care physician at Cambridge Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. She worked in 1990-91 as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy fellow at the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Congress. Dr. Woolhandler is a founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and is currently a member of its board. Dr. Woolhandler is a principal author of many PNHP articles published in the JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine and other professional journals.


Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 15,000 members and chapters across the United States.

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