Coffeyville medical debt, Kansas: The rural county in Kansas is putting pressure on unpaid medical debt t

There is at least one question where shared electors can meet on this election year: A recent poll found that 90% of those surveyed agreed to make the health care more affordable.

Millions of Americans remain uninsured.

As Meg Oliver reports in partnership with ProPublica, some people are going to prison even because they have a pressure system that places new demands on overloaded income.

Heather Biggs Lane and Son were diagnosed at the age of five. At the same time, Heather suffered seizures from Lyme disease.

“There were so many – numerous health issues in our family at the same time, he put us in a brake that provided insurance,” said Heather Biggs. “It wouldn’t make any sense. We wouldn’t have to eat, we didn’t have a house.”

Heather Biggs from Coffeyville, Kansas.

CBS News


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

“You wouldn’t think you would go to prison over medical bills,” said Tres Biggs.

Tres Biggs was imprisoned for not attending court on unpaid medical bills. He described it as “frightening.”

“I was terrified to die,” Tres Biggs said. “I’m a national parent – I had to get a strip down, pour it and swear it.”

The bonds were $ 500. He said “maybe $ 50 to $ 100” of them at the time.

In rural Coffeyville, Kansas, where the poverty rate is twice the national average, solicitors such as Michael Hassenplug have built successful legal practices representing medical providers to collect debts owed to their neighbors.

“I’m just doing my job,” Hassenplug said. “They want the money collected, and I want to do my best job by following the law.”

Heather and Tits Biggs.

CBS News


This law was put into effect by recommending Hassenplug himself to the local judge. The solicitor uses this law by asking the court to order people to have unpaid medical bills present in court every three months and to say that they are too poor to pay in “debtors’ examination.”

If two hearings are lost, the judge issues an arrest warrant for contempt of court. The bonds are fixed at $ 500.

Hassenplug said that he gets “paid for what is collected.” If the bond money is applied to the judgment, then it gets some of that, he said.

“We are being sent to prison because of contempt of court for failure to appear,” Hassenplug said.

In most courts, bail money is returned when defendants arrive in court. But in almost all cases in Coffeyville, money goes to pay solicitors such as Hassenplug and the medical debt owed to its clients.

“This raises serious constitutional concerns,” said Nusrat Choudhury, deputy director of the ACLU. “What is happening here is to discourage jailhouse with cash, that is to say there is a private debt.”

CBS News went to court on a debt collection day. They wouldn’t let our cameras in, but we looked at more than 60 people who swore that they didn’t have enough money to pay, and only one had a solicitor.

Michael Hassenplug continues to function.

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