One patient had a car break down on top of medical debt they were still paying off from years ago, so they declined medication and specialist care because they had no more funds. Now their chronic disease has reached end-stage and we are discussing palliative care.

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. 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?”

I am a primary care doctor, and these examples are, unfortunately, very common. I grapple with this question often. We need to intervene before even more of our Maine communities are unable to access care because of medical debt.

As a family doctor, I support any legislation to ease my patients’ medical debt so that they are able to access the care that they so desperately need. L.D. 1955 is one of those bills that will ease Mainers’ financial strain from necessary medical care, and I am writing in support of it. People may not know that 4 out of 10 people nationally have medical debt. This is a massive national problem, but Maine and its politicians can take a step in the right direction by supporting this bill.

Dr. Brendan Prast, MD

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