Yup, you read that right! An unemployed, 59-year old man in North Carolina -- concerned about a growth on his chest and two ruptured disks -- told an RBC Bank in Gastonia, NC that he was robbing them for $1. His underlying motivation? Access to health care. ABC News has the details:
A 59-year-old man has been jailed in Gastonia, N.C., on charges of larceny after allegedly robbing an RBC Bank for $1 so he could get health care in prison. Richard James Verone handed a female teller a note demanding the money and claiming that he had a gun, according to the police report.
He then sat down and waited for police to arrive. "… I say, 'I'll be sitting right over here, on the chair, waiting for the police,'" Verone told reporters, recalling the June 9 robbery in an interview from Gaston County Jail.
And wait for the police, he did.
"He's sitting on the sofa as you walk in the front door," the bank teller said in a 911 call.
Police arrested Verone where he sat. He was unarmed.
He just said he was being logical -- and I agree (although desperate might be the best adjective to employ):
"I'm sort of a logical person and that was my logic, what I came up with," Verone told reporters. "If it is called manipulation, then out of necessity because I need medical care, then I guess I am manipulating the courts to get medical care."
Unfortunately, the medically-motivated "robber" probably won't be in jail long enough to get the care he needs:
But the charge of larceny, not armed robbery, is unlikely to keep Verone behind bars for more than 12 months. He is being held in Gaston County Jail on a $2,000 bond, according to a spokesman for the jail, and is scheduled to appear in court June 28.
Now, let's play a little game called, "Expect the Response from the Glenn Beck Crowd!"
They'll probably say: "Ha! This asshole is an idiot! Why didn't he just go beg for care on the street with an instant coffee tin?!"
Of course, the rest of the world will read this and be horrified -- and horror is the response we should have, as Americans, too.
This just fits the bill for everything that's wrong with our extreme-profit health insurance non-system health care system.
He was 59 -- too young for single-payer Medicare, and too old to have any greedy health insurance company sell him an affordable policy.
HA! Sell him an affordable policy? He's not even getting an expensive policy with growth on his chest and a busted back. "Sorry," Sir, say the thugs at Aetna or CIGNA, "you have a pre-existing condition. Have you considered moving to Costa Rica?"
Barack Obama used to like to say, "Nobody should go broke because they get sick." (Of course, we know that medical bankruptcies will continue under the PPACA reforms).
Maybe he'll say now, "Nobody should have to pretend to rob a bank so they can get locked up in prison and have at least a chance of staying alive by getting health care."
No wonder British politicians have to bash American-style health care financing to stay elected.
Tonight, I am ashamed to be an American. And I'm discouraged -- will we ever get the system we deserve?
UPDATE: Can Richard become our "Joe the Plumber" for universal, single-payer health care?
This guy is really articulate!
Here's a video interview from North Carolina over at the NY Times.
Think Progress also has a great blog on his story with more thoughts from Richard:
Verone says he’s not a political man. But he has a lot to say on the subject of socialized medical care. He suspects he wouldn’t be talking to a reporter through a metal screen wearing an orange jumpsuit if such an option were available in the U.S. “If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything,” said Verone. The man has high hopes with his recent incarceration. He has seen several nurses and has an appointment with a doctor Friday.The ideal scenario would include back and foot surgery and a diagnosis and treatment of the protrusion on his chest, he said.
His choice was simply immense physical pain or jail:
Between continuing a life in pain and choosing prison, he is happy with his decision. “If I had not exercised all the alternatives I would be sitting here saying, ‘Man I feel bad about it,’” he said. “I picked jail.” The United States is the only wealthy country that does not offer comprehensive universal health care to every citizen; in no other rich country would anyone be faced with such a choice.
UPDATE II: Great story in Richard's local newspaper.