Health Care Documentary Hits Home

Local filmmaker debuts first film at Museum of Contemporary Art

The state of America's health care system has been the topic of much discussion and nashing of teeth in the last decade, and all the talk, to this point, has simply left us shaking our heads and trying to avoid illness.

President Obama, who admittedly has a lot on his plate, has promised to address the issue and has laid out a plan to reform the system, but in the meantime, the situation becomes more dire for those in the lower economic sphere.

On Tuesday night, a filmmaker from Chicago debuted the documentary "Do No Harm," which examines unfair billing practices at a non-profit hospital in Georgia.

"I think you'll find the events recorded in this film almost sound like a plot from a bestseller by John Grisham," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said while introducing the film at the Museum of Contemporary Art, indicating that the story presents a "truth is stranger than fiction" scenario.

"In the absence of laws to protect health care consumers from overly aggressive billing and collection practices, many Illinois hospitals employed strategies similar to those at Phoebe Putney," Chi-Town Daily News quotes Madigan as saying.

Directed by first-time Chicago filmmaker Rebecca Schanberg, (the film) follows physician John Bagnato and accountant Charles Rehberg, who went head-to-head with an Albany, Ga., hospital named Phoebe Putney.

Bagnato and Rehberg endured threats and prosecution while showing the hospital overcharged poor patients with tactics such as aggressive collection practices. Some of those patients ended up filing bankruptcy.

Chi-Town Daily News reports that panelists and audience members at the screening said they saw Chicago's non-profit health care system closely reflected in the film.

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