Free and Charitable Clinics Remain Critical to the Health Care Safety Net
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As the speculation of how many individuals have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act continues to grow until the final number of enrollees is reported, one thing is for certain - Free and Charitable Clinics will continue to provide health care for the many who are left behind.
"Many people do not realize that there are approximately 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics throughout the nation who since the 1960's have been filling in the gap for those who 'fall through the cracks' in our current health care system," said Nann Worel, National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) President. "While the Affordable Care Act was a start at fixing a broken system, there is still much work to be done when it comes to accessibility, portability and affordability of health care for all."
Free and Charitable Clinics are a crucial part of America's healthcare safety net and organize on a grassroots community level; they are providing healthcare daily to many deserving and hardworking individuals who fall through the cracks of our healthcare system and have nowhere else to turn. According to the NAFC member reports, clinics provide 5.5 million patient visits annually, 80% of patients are 18-65 years old, 58% are women and 83% come from a working household.
It should also be noted that 44% of these clinics have an operating budget under $100,000. These clinics receive little to no state or federal funding. Free and Charitable Clinics utilize volunteers and count on the support of donors, grants and partnerships in order to provide much needed access to health care.
"One of the most common misconceptions about how the United States will look after the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that there will no longer be a need for Free and Charitable Clinics to continue to provide charity care as a vital component of the healthcare safety net," said Nicole Lamoureux, NAFC Executive Director. "In fact, many are surprised to hear that according to the Congressional Budget Office, there may be as many as 29 million people left that without access to affordable health care even after the ACA and the promise of expanded access. Given these realities, Free and Charitable Clinics will remain an important part of the national healthcare safety net."
About the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC)
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) is the only nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is solely focused on the issues and needs of more than 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics and the people they serve in the United States. Founded in 2001 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., the NAFC is an effective advocate for the issues and concerns of Free and Charitable Clinics, their volunteer workforce of doctors, dentists, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, technicians and other health care professionals, as well as the patients served by Free and Charitable Clinics in communities throughout the nation. For more information, go to: www.nafcclinics.org.