Bank Robber Wants $1 and Health Care

Bank robberyIf you've ever watched a movie or TV show featuring a bank heist, you know the basic elements: There's the criminal planning for a big score that will set him up for life. There's the perfect plan, usually involving a tunnel into the vault and a hostage situation, or the quieter option of a demand note. And there's always a getaway vehicle. From this point on, it's a battle of chance and heroism.

Will the bank robber get what he wants, or will the good guys step in and foil the plan?

James Richard Verone concocted a plot that may have, in its individual elements, seemed like a bust. The Gaston, N.C., man went into the bank with a simple demand note. He wasn't really all that bad of a guy, and his greed was entirely insufficient for a profiler to ever peg him as a criminal mastermind; in fact, he had tried to make ends meet after he got laid off from his job as a Coca-Cola deliveryman by working part time in a convenience store. On the morning of the crime, he showered and ironed his shirt. And for once, the bank robber's interests and those of the good guys were aligned.

Here's the thing: His getaway vehicle was a cop car, and his sunny retirement locale was in fact the Gaston County Jail and the medical care he desperately needed. His demand note asked for $1 and medical attention; he told the teller he'd wait for the police in one of those comfy chairs where other customers wait to apply for a bank loan or to open a new account.Verone, of course, was waiting for a ride to jail, where he was hoping to get treatment for his carpal tunnel syndrome, his back injuries, the trouble with his left foot that had him limping, his arthritis, and the health complaint that broke the 59-year-old man's will: the "painful protrusion" in his chest.

But Verone is only being charged with larceny, not bank robbery, since he asked for such a small amount of money, which means he might not be headed to jail at all. If the punishment isn't bad enough to keep him in lockup so he can receive the only health care he can afford, however, he says he'll threaten to re-offend.

Are you waiting for Verone's thoughts on universal health care? He believes the government should offer people more support. Indeed, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, by 2014, he would have been able to purchase health insurance via an exchange, with subsidies, for 2% of his income, which would have worked out to something probably close to less than $25 a month.

Under a "single payer system," like those in the U.K., Canada and elsewhere in Europe, Verone would have simply had to go to the waiting area of a state-sponsored clinic, and one fewer person would be in prison, and one fewer person would have needed medical attention.

You see, the teller who received his demand note was so frightened, she had to be taken to the hospital to be checked out. She, very probably, had health insurance -- or she would have been sympathetic, not terrified.

And we're still waiting for the verdict: Who, exactly, is the bad guy in this scenario?
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