Las Vegas Sun

January 19, 2018

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Health care’s human face

Massive turnout at free health clinic event shows need for comprehensive reform

The angry mobs that have disrupted congressional town-hall meetings throughout the country should redirect some of that wasted energy. They should focus on the reason why this nation needs comprehensive health care reform instead of the status quo pushed by the powerful insurance industry.

Blatant evidence of that need was on display last week at the Forum, an arena in Inglewood, Calif., which was once home of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association.

As reported Thursday by The New York Times, about 1,500 people showed up at the arena on the first day that nonprofit Tennessee-based Remote Area Medical was offering free medical, dental and vision services to those with inadequate insurance or no coverage. Thousands more showed up the following day.

Remote Area Medical, which normally serves the medically needy only in rural areas, was overwhelmed by the turnout for its first large-city event. But it shouldn’t have been surprised.

Tens of millions of Americans are in the same boat. They are deprived of routine health care that many other people — including apparently the town-hall mobs — take for granted. Those Americans lacking adequate medical care are in that predicament because they are either unemployed or have employers who don’t provide sufficient, affordable health insurance.

If not for Remote Area Medical, there is a good chance that many of the Southern California residents who showed up at the Forum would have crammed emergency rooms or developed chronic ailments that would wind up costing taxpayers more money in the long run.

There is also a humanitarian side to this issue. Merely continuing with the status quo — something insurance company executives like because it lines their pockets with cash — means Americans without access to affordable care are needlessly suffering. Is there anything American about that?

Free health clinics exist for people who have run out of options. Meaningful health care reform should extend acceptable options to all Americans.

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