The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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


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.

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


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


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

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 21,000 members and chapters across the United States.