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Free Health Care Draws Thousands As Nation Debates Need

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:49 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Health Care Reform, Uninsured, Underinsured, HMOs, Insurance Industry, AMA, Obama

Free health, dental, eye care offered to thousands in Los Angeles as the nation debates whether we really need to reform health care.


IMAGE SOURCE: Los Angeles Times Web site/ waiting outside the Forum before dawn

RAM in Los Angeles

Health care reform has proven a huge challenge for President Obama, not helped by the civil unrest being churned up by at Town Hall meetings by insurance and health care corporations and citizens content with leaving health care alone.

But there is no clearer evidence of the need than another scene reminiscent of a Third World nation that, as in the U.S., leaves 47 million without insurance or options.

Hundreds of people showed up before dawn Tuesday to receive a free health care checkup at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses, and optometrists, working through the nonprofit group, Remote Area Medical (RAM) serve the uninsured and underinsured around the country.

Originally set up to serve the health care needs of Latin America, Knoxville, Tennessee-based, RAM, has found the need at home just as pressing.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the eight-day event will run from 5:30 am until 6 p.m.

People began arriving before 3 a.m. today for their checkups. People wait in stadium seats outside of the Forum. 1,200 will be seen in a 45 minute exam. Dental stations can seat 100 and 25 eye exams site are also available.

People do not have to show proof of income or insurance to receive mammograms, chest x-rays, PAP smears, blood pressure, and diabetes screening.

$250,000 Delivers Health Care To Thousands

Last month at the county fairgrounds in Wise, Virginia, hundreds of desperate people lined up to receive free medical care in cleaned out animal stalls, courtesy of RAM. They drove in from 16 states, NPR reports and slept in cars, tents, and pickup trucks, hoping to be the first to be seen when the gate opened.

47 percent are considered underinsured after co-pay or gaps provided by Medicare, Medicaid and conventional insurance coverage.

Stan Brock, the founder of RAM says most of the people worry about what would happen if they had a catastrophic health event.

“There’s no doubt about it. There is a Third World right here in the United States. Here in the world’s richest country,” he says.


RAM organizers say they operate on an annual budget of about $250,000 to provide care that would normally total about $1.5 million.

RAM is located in Knoxville, Tennessee, where small donations from individuals keep the organization going. #

1 Comment

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 1:08 PM EST

Karen Wilson of RAM tells IB News that there have been 575 RAM expeditions domestically, in Latin America, India, and Africa.

Why Los Angeles? After the "60 Minutes" story they were invited by an area charity because of the need.

"People can be geographically remote in their access to care and economically remote to accessing care as well," she says.

Comments for this article are closed.

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