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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 5, 2010

Mounting medical fees force lawmaker into bankruptcy

Advertiser Staff

State Rep. Joe Bertram is declaring bankruptcy because he says he can't afford medical expenses from an illness that hospitalized him last year, the Maui News reported.

The Maui Democrat says in his Jan. 28 bankruptcy filing that he owes more than $51,000 to creditors and has only $1,600 in assets.

Bertram, D-11th (South Maui), was hospitalized in May 2009 with toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease he may have caught while cleaning his cat's litter box. His bankruptcy filing says the illness left him with more than $30,000 in medical bills.

Bertram says he didn't have health insurance at the time of his illness because he hadn't signed up for medical coverage provided by the state to its legislators.

Bertram was diagnosed with HIV more than a decade ago.