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Medical Debt on the Rise for Middle Class Virginians


Monday, November 16, 2009   

ANNANDALE, Va. - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid aims to start debate on health reform Tuesday, as rallies are being held across the state to show support for those who helped pass similar reform in the House. Among the reforms debated will be financial protections for families facing medical debt.

According to U.S. Census data, one out of every four Americans under the age of 65 will spend more than 10 percent of their income this year on health care.

Standing in the pouring rain at a rally for reform, Falls Church physician Sarah John says her patients often don't come in when they're sick, because they're afraid of high medical bills.

"The insurance companies are able to do all kinds of denials, and it traps patients. My patients often discuss the difficulties that they have, paying their bills."

As a physician, John says she's on the front lines and sees the need for health reform.

"We need a public option, we need portability and we need health care that works - and we don't have that currently."

The rally in favor of Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly's vote for health reform was attended by members of the Virginia Organizing Project and other health reform advocates. More rallies will be held at congressional offices across the Commonwealth this week. Those who oppose reform say it will lead to lower standards of care and higher federal deficits.

A new guide to help those saddled with medical debt is available from the group Families USA. "Your Medical Bills: A Consumer's Guide to Coping with Medical Debt" is available at or by calling 202-628-3030.

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