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Jailed Health

2011 June 25
by Stanley Quan

A few days ago, a news story broke about a man in North Carolina who robbed a bank in order to get medical care in jail.

According to the article, “Earlier this month, James Richard Verone, a 59-year-old convenience store clerk, walked into a bank and handed the cashier a note demanding $1 and medical attention. Then he waited calmly for police to show up.

He’s now in jail and has an appointment with a doctor this week.”

In the economic downturn, Verone had recently lost his job as a Coca Cola deliveryman and had difficulty finding new permanent employment. His labor-intensive work had taken a toll on his body and he started experiencing back ache and had problems with his left foot, making him limp. Verone also suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. When he noticed a protrusion on his chest, he couldn’t wait any longer and thought up the bank robbery plan to get health care.

James Verone (Photo credit: Ben Goff/The Gaston Gazette)

I’ve always believed that health care is a basic right and that everyone deserves medical treatment if needed. I think it’s sad that Verone had to make the choice that he did. If it wasn’t apparent before, his story cements the fact that the US health care system is broken.

It makes me wonder how petty politics can be sometimes, that it takes such a long battle for health reform bills to pass through government. I mean, a man broke the law, in order to get medical treatment… America spends more on health care than any other nation in the world, and this happens? Clearly, big changes are needed.

Hopefully this can serve as a wake-up call.

Verone committed a crime and is going to jail for it. But I’d argue that it’s a crime against humanity and our society that an honest, hard-working citizen of the United States was pushed to this point just to get what should be a fundamental right: health care.



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