Medical bankruptcy bill faces Senate panel vote

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 12, 2010

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A bill that would adjust bankruptcy laws for people filing due to medical bills has been scheduled for an April 15 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2009 is sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D, R.I.). It would exempt people filing bankruptcies due to medical bills from federal credit counseling requirements, which were established to educate people about irresponsible spending, Whitehouse said. It would entitle the medically bankrupt to protections for $250,000 worth of property so that their homes are less likely to be lost. It also would allow them to have debts discharged through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy rather than a Chapter 11 filing, which is more complex and time-consuming, he said.

The measure has five co-sponsors. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D, Vt.) has not taken a position on the bill, according to Erica Chabot, a Democratic committee spokeswoman. A companion measure is pending in the House.

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