One out of every five people in Arkansas lacks health insurance coverage. However, today over 1,500 uninsured Arkansans received health care at a free clinic hosted by Communities Are Responding Everyday (CARE) at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, which was made possible in part because of calls for donations by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. A wide variety of medical services, including physicals and screenings for such conditions as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, were provided at the clinic.
The Arkansas Times spoke both to volunteers and people waiting to receive care. Several of the volunteers expressed their enthusiasm to help their fellow community members, while at the same time feeling “ashamed” to be in a country where health care is still a privilege:
MAN: Well I came to get health. I do have diabetes and I haven’t been able to get healthcare since I lost my last job. And I am a student so it’s been a little difficult to get a full time job where I can get benefits. [...] I haven’t seen a doctor probably in three or four years. [...] I thank all of the volunteers.
WOMAN: I got laid off in 2008 and since I haven’t had insurance [...]
MAN: I don’t make really enough money to pay bills and have healthcare also. This is a good opportunity for me. And I haven’t really had a check up or anything in more years than I’d like to admit. [...] I’m really thankful.
Earlier today, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) announced today that she would provide the 60th vote “in support of cloture on the motion to proceed” to the health care reform bill. But Lincoln also stressed that she is “opposed to a new government administered health care plan as a part of health care reform and will not vote on the health care proposal introduced by leader Reid as it is written.”
As it is currently written, the Senate health bill would reduce the number of uninsured by 31 million while also reducing the deficit by $130 billion in ten years. So while Lincoln considers voting against the bill, free clinics like the one today remain the only option for hundreds of thousands of people in her state. The next free clinic event is scheduled for December 9-10 in Kansas City, Mo.