May 9, 2010; Parade | Distributed by more than 400 newspapers and read by 71 million people every week, Parade magazine gets attention for its choice of subjects. This week that attention goes to the free clinics that provide no-cost medical care for millions of uninsured people in the U.S. The article describes the free-clinic in Atlanta that involved 1,050 volunteers on a recent Saturday.
The Atlanta clinic was the latest of six “mega-clinics” in a partnership of the National Association of Free Clinics and TV doctor Mehmet Oz. The six mega-clinics have served 8,000 people, providing medical exams, screening and links to follow-up care.
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Noting that health care reform, when it is completely operational, will still leave 15 million people needing inexpensive or free health care, NAFC’s executive director, Nicole Lamoureux, pointed out that the visible diversity of people at the Atlanta mega-clinic was an accurate picture of America’s uninsured. She told Parade that “60 percent of the patients said they hadn’t seen a doctor in at least a year; 20 percent hadn’t had health care in more than five years.”
The free clinics represent some of the best, perhaps most heroic, work of the nonprofit sector. One can only ask, why will we still have millions of people needing cut-rate or free health care after health care reform? Something is still wrong with the picture of health care in the United States.—Rick Cohen