Loose pile of dollar bills
Alexander Grey, Unsplash

In a February 11 letter to the Portland Press Herald, Dr. Brendan Prast, a Portland primary physician, talks about how medical debt is affecting patients’ ability to get the care they need.

Prast urges support for LD 1955, a bill currently in the Maine Legislature, that would provide much-needed protections for patients who incur medical debt, including requiring hospitals to offer longer payment terms, at rates that don’t exceed 3% of patients’ income.

“Another patient has been having symptoms that make me worry about heart disease, but they refuse any testing because they cannot afford it, even with insurance, because of massive medical bills from before,” Prast writes. “How do I tell these patients that the preventable or treatable condition that they couldn’t afford treatment for has finally reached the ‘point of no return?’”