TN Politics: When Hospital Bills Cause Bigger Ills

Jul 5, 2019

Credit WKNO-FM

It may seem contradictory that during a week that celebrates Americans' freedom and independence new laws taking effect in Tennessee both giveth and taketh away certain freedoms. The right to drive while distractedly gabbing or texting on a cell phone, for example, now comes with a $200 fine. 

For political analyst Otis Sanford, new laws weren't the only things making an impact this week. A new investigation by journalist Wendi Thomas and MLK 50: Justice Through Journalism and ProPublica revealed that Memphis' Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare has taken agressive measures to collect money from patients who couldn't afford to pay their costly medical bills, including its own staff members. Through more than 8,000 lawsuits, numerous low-income patients were threatened with the prospect of a court appearance, wage garnishments, added interest, and lawyers fees. Sanford hopes that Democrats in the state legislature will suggest some remedies for poor people who get mired in medical expenses, but he says that Republican lawmakers are staunchly opposed to available solutions such as Medicaid expansion. 

Finally, a familiar face has pulled a petition to enter the Memphis mayor's race, and it's best to let this video serve as a tutorial. Keep an eye out for the Otis Sanford cameo!