Is This Really America? People Thrown in Jail for Medical Debts?
The nightmare from Obamacare left millions of Americans worse off with their health insurance. President Trump is calling for a bipartisan bill from Congress to make healthcare more affordable for the millions of Americans who cannot afford health coverage.
President Trump reversed Obamacare, which was killing the nation on mandatory health insurance many Americans could not afford. The penalty was applied during the income tax season when fines were issued. There was a recent survey where 90 percent of Americans want this problem fixed.
There are still unresolved issues that Congress can’t seem to get on the right page when it comes to fixing the problem with affordable healthcare. Why? Because Democrats run the house and oversee the health care insurance. That is why nothing can get done. They were too busy trying to get rid of a president who did nothing wrong.
Now another legal issue has come up where reporters from CBS News brought to light, people are now going to jail in a county in Kansas for not having the money to pay on their medical expenses. Almost every American either has or knows someone that has medical bills they are trying to pay. Imagine going to jail because the system fixed it to where people have to show up in court and go to jail if they don’t.
This leaves a chain reaction of poverty because of Attornies like Michael Hassenplug, who built their business representing hospitals and doctors collect their debts. Hassenplug put in the recommendation with the local judge who approved it and made it a local law.
The law states every three months, those who owe on medical bills must appear in court to pass what they call a “debtors exam” to prove they cannot pay their bills. If the party does not show up for two hearings, a warrant for their arrest is put in place for contempt of court.
Once the warrant is served, the person gets arrested, booked, and thrown in jail. The bond is set at $500. Guess who gets the money? Attorney Michael Hassenplug receives a portion of the bail money and any other money collected to pay the debt.
The way bail money works in most cases when the defendant shows up for their court date, the bail money is refunded. In Coffeyville, Kansas, it goes to the Attorney and toward the medical debt owed.
Nusrat Choudhury, the deputy director of the ACLU, stated, “This raises serious constitutional concerns. What’s happening here is a jailhouse shake-down for cash that is the criminalization of private debt.”
So here we have a family who does the best they can to pay their debt on medical bills by going to work. They have to miss work and show up for court, losing money to pay on their bills to tell the judge they are poor and cannot pay their medical bills. It is a never-ending cycle.
The Biggs family was interviewed and was a victim of this law in the Kansas county. Tres and Heather Briggs’ child Lane had leukemia when he was five. Heather had a case of Lyme disease during the same time frame and suffered from seizures.
Heather told reporters, “We had so many multiple health issues in our family at the same time, it put us in a bracket that made insurance unattainable. It would have made no sense. We would have had to have not eaten, not had a home.”
Her husband, Tres, worked two jobs to pay their bills when they fell behind. Biggs stated, “You wouldn’t think you’d go to jail over medical bills.”
Tres continued to describe the incident as he was arrested and thrown in jail, “I was scared to death. I’m a country kid. I had to strip down, get hosed, and put a jumpsuit on.” He added the bail was $500, and all he had was $50 to $100.
By missing work, they would not have paid the bills. By paying the bail, they go deeper into debt. So Tress Biggs went to work and got arrested. It is a no-win situation for almost all of the people in Coffeyville, where poverty is twice the national average.
Attorney Hassenplug stated, “I’m just doing my job. They want the money collected, and I’m trying to do my job as best I can by following the law.” He added, “We’re sending them to jail for contempt of court for failure to appear.” Yeah, his law.