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Newsflash: Jail isn't the only place to get free health care in America

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Yesterday we brought you the harrowing tale of James Richard Verone, a man seemingly so desperate for free medical care that he robbed a bank in order to get thrown in jail.

Today comes word that the bank Mr. Verone chose to rob is located just minutes away from one of many free health clinics in his area:

The dirty secret about our health care system is that it is, in fact, very generous to the poor. A recent study from the N.C. Justice Center notes that North Carolina hospitals provided $694 million in free care in 2008.

Nationwide, hospitals provide more than $34 billion in unpaid care. Then there are all the private charities, Medicaid, and various other state and federal programs that offer the poor and destitute access to care.

A hospital in Gastonia, N.C., — Gaston Memorial Hospital — offers discounts up to 100% to low-income patients. There's also a free health clinic just five miles from where Verone robbed that bank, and many more in nearby Charlotte.

If he wanted to travel a bit farther, Verone could have availed himself of the state-of-the-art medical facilities at the University of North Carolina, whose mandate is to provide "medically necessary health care to the citizens of North Carolina, regardless of their ability to pay."

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