Coffeesville, Kansas, Medical Debt: People in rural Kansas County are being jailed for unpaid medical debt

Coffeesville, Kansas, Medical Debt: People in rural Kansas County are being jailed for unpaid medical debt

At least one division voter may be assembled this election year: A recent poll found that 90% of those surveyed agreed to make healthcare more affordable.

Millions of Americans remain uninsured.

Reported as a partnership with CBS News correspondents such as Meg Oliver ProPublica, Some people are even going to jail because they are overwhelmed by a system that puts new demands on extra income.

Leuke’s son, Trace and Heather Biggs, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 5 years old. At the same time, Heather suffered from Lyme disease.

“Our family had many health issues at the same time, it put us in a bracket that could make insurance unavailable,” said Heather Biggs. “It didn’t make any sense. We needed to eat, not have a home.”

Heather Biggs in Coffsville, Kansas.

CBS News


Trace Biggs was doing two things but when they fell behind on their medical bills, something unexpected happened.

“You wouldn’t think you would go to prison because of a medical bill,” said Trace Biggs.

Trace Biggs went to jail for failing to appear in court for unpaid medical bills. He described it as “scary.”

“I was scared to death,” said Trace Biggs. “I’m a country kid – I have to get off, feed, and put on a jumpsuit.”

The bail was $ 500. He said they had “probably $ 50 to $ 100.”

In rural Coffeyville, Kansas, where poverty rates are twice the national average, attorneys like Michael Hasenplug have developed a successful legal system representing treatment providers to pay their neighbors’ collections.

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

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Heather and Trace Biggs.

CBS News


This policy was put in place at Hasenplug’s own recommendation to a local judge. The attorney used the law, instructing the court to instruct unpaid medical billed people to appear in court every three months, and to state that they were too poor to be called a “tors sports test.”

If there were no two hearings, the judge issued an arrest warrant for contempt of court. Bail is set at $ 500.

Hasenplug said he was “paid for what he collected”. If bail money is applied to the verdict, he gets a share of it, he said.

“We are sending them to jail for contempt of court,” Hasenplug said.

Most of the court bail money is returned when the defendants appear in court. But in almost every case in Coffeyville, the money goes toward paying off debt owed to attorneys and clients like Hasenplug.

“This raises serious constitutional concerns,” said Nusrat Chowdhury, deputy director of the ACLU. “What is happening here is a jailbreak in exchange for cash, which is a criminalization of personal debt.”

CBS News Debt goes to court on collection day. They don’t let our cameras in, but we swear to over 60০ people that they don’t have enough money to pay, and only one of them has an attorney representing them.

Michael Hasenplug continues to lead.

Editor’s Note: It has been updated to more precisely identify the policy that states that unpaid medical bills are often attended by the court.

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