James Verone, a 59-year-old former truck driver, was having serious medical problems that he couldn't afford to get checked out or treated. If only North Carolina had a free, state-run health-care system!, he thought. Then he realized it does: in prison.

And so one morning Verone hailed a cab, headed to (the randomly-chosen) RBC bank, and handed the teller a note "demanding one dollar, and medical attention." As it happens, one dollar is not enough money to count as a "bank robbery" (and garner the jail time that goes with it), and Verone will be charged with "larceny from a person." Nonetheless, the Gaston Gazette writes, Verone has already "seen several nurses and has an appointment with a doctor Friday."

As the Gazette reveals, Verone's arrest is part stunt: He wrote the paper a letter on the morning he left for the bank, telling it what he planned to do, and, in an interview with its reporter, stressed his support for socialized medical care. But it's not as though Verone is on vacation, either:

He goes to breakfast and lunch each day but skips dinner. Dinner means nearly four hours in the general jail population, and Verone said he likes to minimize contact with other inmates.

"I stay very quiet," he said.

Verone said he hears the other men talk about the revolving door that jail has become for them.

He hopes he doesn't join the ranks of the repeat offender.

But today, he has no regrets about the robbery or where it landed him.

If nothing else, jail sounds better than the death panel he will face when Obamacare goes into effect in 2014.

[Gaston Gazette]