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World County in Kansas is jailing people over unpaid medical debt

06:01  10 february  2020
06:01  10 february  2020 Source:   cbsnews.com

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County in rural Kansas is jailing people over unpaid medical debt . Drunk emotional people + ten random sets of car keys strewn around = multiple stolen duis that wrecked within a quarter mile of the bar.

A little over a decade later, Notes for Notes has 25 studios in 16 cities, and has attracted some famous mentors. "If I had access to this studio at these kids' age, I would have been much more well Popular On CBS News. 01. County in Kansas is jailing people over unpaid medical debt .

There is at least one issue a divided electorate can come together on this election year: A recent poll finds 90% of those surveyed agreed on the importance of making health care more affordable.

Millions of Americans remain uninsured.

As Meg Oliver reports in partnership with ProPublica, some people are even going to jail because they're squeezed by a system that's putting new demands on overburdened incomes.

Tres and Heather Biggs' son Lane was diagnosed with leukemia when he was five years old. At the same time, Heather suffered seizures from Lyme disease. 

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Jailed Over Medical Debt . Nov 29, 20197:52 PM. Slate podcast transcripts are created by She lives in Brooklyn but she spent a lot of her summer in Kansas in a little town called Coffeyville us is S6: And a lot of debtors actually think about it as jail for medical debt even though if you look at it and

23. Iverson had been jailed for failing to show up for civil court appearances over an unpaid medical bill. Tremonton City won a judgment against Iverson in September 2014 for a 2013 unpaid ambulance bill that came to There is no reason for someone to be rotting in jail on a bad debt ."

"We had so many — multiple health issues in our family at the same time, it put us in a bracket that made insurance unattainable," Heather Biggs said. "It would have made no sense. We would have had to have not eaten, not had a home."

a woman sitting in a chair talking on a cell phone: Heather Biggs of Coffeyville, Kansas. © Provided by CBS News Heather Biggs of Coffeyville, Kansas.

Tres Biggs was working two jobs but they fell behind on their medical bills, then the unthinkable happened.

 "You wouldn't think you'd go to jail over medical bills," Tres Biggs said. 

Tres Biggs went to jail for failing to appear in court for unpaid medical bills. He described it as "scary." 

"I was scared to death," Tres Biggs said. "I'm a country kid  — I had to strip down, get hosed and put a jumpsuit on." 

Bail was $500 (AUD$750.46). He said they had "maybe $50 (AUD$75.04) to $100 (AUD$150) at the time. 

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Over 95 percent of debt collection suits end in favor of the collector, usually because alleged debtors do not Once arrested, debtors may languish in jail for days until they can arrange to pay the bail. The companies collect not only restitution for the unpaid check. They nearly always tack on a variety

For medical bills in collections, know that debt collectors generally buy debts for pennies on the dollar. That gives you some good leverage to negotiate. If you think you can haggle with your provider, you may be able to take the work of a medical bill advocate into your own hands.

In rural Coffeyville, Kansas, where the poverty rate is twice the national average, attorneys like Michael Hassenplug have built successful law practices representing medical providers to collect debt owed by their neighbors. 

"I'm just doing my job," Hassenplug said. "They want the money collected, and I'm trying to do my job as best I can by following the law." 

a man in a striped shirt: Heather and Tres Biggs. © Provided by CBS News Heather and Tres Biggs.

That law was put in place at Hassenplug's own recommendation to the local judge. The attorney uses that law by asking the court to direct people with unpaid medical bills to appear in court every three months and state they are too poor to pay in what is called a "debtors exam."

If two hearings are missed, the judge issues an arrest warrant for contempt of court. Bail is set at $500 (AUD$750).

Hassenplug said he gets "paid on what's collected." If the bail money is applied to the judgment, then he gets a portion of that, he said. 

"We're sending them to jail for contempt of court for failure to appear," Hassenplug said. 

In most courts, bail money is returned when defendants appear in court. But in almost every case in Coffeyville, that money goes to pay attorneys like Hassenplug and the medical debt his clients are owed.

"This raises serious constitutional concerns," said Nusrat Choudhury, the deputy director of the ACLU. "What's happening here is a jailhouse shake-down for cash that is the criminalization of private debt."

CBS News went to court on debt collection day. They wouldn't allow our cameras in, but we watched more than 60 people swear they didn't have enough money to pay, and only one of them had an attorney representing them. 

Michael Hassenplug continues to operate.

Zimbabwe central bank to settle $1.2 billion (AUD $1.7 billion) of legacy debt .
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