Free health Clinic a ‘Band-Aid’ Fix to Uninsurance Problem

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

image Nearly 5,000 people will descend on the LA Sports Arena from Thursday to Sunday this week – not to see a game, but to see a doctor.
CareNow is hosting its fourth large scale health care clinic this weekend.

But Donald Manelli, CareNow’s president and founder, would like to see the event becomes obsolete.

“It’s kind of an ad hoc solution to a problem that one hopes will go away eventually,” he said. “It’s kind of a barn-raising. It’s kind of the community coming together to help people in great need.”

More than 2 million people in Los Angeles are uninsured, and another 2 million are on Medicaid.

Shana Alex Lavarreda of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research says that the clinic is a Band-Aid approach, but still necessary.

“We need some extra Band-Aid to at least to get us through at least some initial period before health care reform will hopefully cover many of these uninsured people in a good health insurance program,” she said. “But it’s certainly not an ideal situation. We need something more sustainable. We need something that can actually be a system over time that can handle the capacity of the health care needs of the population of Los Angeles.”

Nina Vaccaro, executive director of the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers, says that connecting people with a medical home where they can get regular services is essential.

“In a perfect world, eventually I would like to see that we don’t have a need for these episodic events,” she said. “But right now that need is so great. The services that these clinics have are comprehensive but limited. Our clinics are doing the best that they can but they’ve got lines around the block every morning.”

Patients who need follow up treatment will be connected with local clinics.

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