“Shut the front door!” Blanche Jordan exclaimed into the phone in April.
I had just told her the lawsuit filed against her over unpaid medical bills had been dropped. The bills were from a hysterectomy related to her cancer treatment in 2016. She hadn’t realized at the time the hospital did not accept her insurance.
Jordan’s suit was among several dozen that were dismissed after a Wisconsin Watch analysis in April found more than 100 small claims suits filed by Wisconsin hospitals against patients in the first three weeks of the pandemic. Jordan was served lawsuit papers in person at her front door by a person without a mask on. Learning the suit was dismissed was a relief.
“I don’t even know how to feel right now,” Jordan said. “My heart is racing. I’m shaking right now, because these doctors bills have literally taken over my whole life.”
This pandemic has upended life in Wisconsin, as it has around the globe. Each day in this state thousands of people are diagnosed with COVID-19, dozens of people die and many, many more struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. This new reality has added greater weight to the journalism we produce at Wisconsin Watch to protect the vulnerable, expose wrongdoing and explore solutions.
We’re proud of our work.
Our spotlighting of the ban on recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance from also receiving unemployment aid helped lead to policy change, allowing some of those laid off workers with disabilities to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Our News414 partnership is delivering news via text to thousands in Milwaukee, helping connect Milwaukeans with resources available in their communities. Our dogged reporting on Wisconsin’s election systems shined light on one of the most consequential and unusual elections of our lifetimes.
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The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.