On behalf of the 1.8 million patients served by 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics across the United States, the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) expresses its disappointment over the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House of Representatives yesterday and implores the Senate to reject the bill which could lead to 24 million additional people becoming uninsured.
Free and Charitable Clinics have seen a steady patient demand in recent years, with 1.7 million patients being seen in 2015 and 1.8 million in 2016. Last year, these patients accessed a variety of much needed health care services through over 6 million patient visits with the help of 190,000 volunteers, 94,000 of which were medical volunteers. There clearly remains a continued demand for accessible, affordable health care in the United States, both in states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not. Additionally, it should be noted that 83% of patients who receive care at Free and Charitable Clinics come from a working household and 58% of those who receive care are women.
The NAFC was disheartened that the House rushed through legislation that contains glaring issues rather than taking the time to work with members of the safety net and develop a plan that could actually help the American people. It is clear that many issues still surround the health care landscape in this country, but the current legislation as written promises to do more harm than good.
"While discouraged by the actions of the House and now watching to see what the Senate does, we are even more steadfast in our belief that accessible and affordable health care should be available to all Americans," said Nicole Lamoureux, NAFC CEO. "We believe that access to affordable health care should be available to individuals regardless of their age, sex, income, education, ethnicity, color of skin, religion, sexual orientation or identity."
As the AHCA now goes for review and debate in the Senate, it is our expectation that the Senate will find ways to provide access to health care for the 29 million people who have still not received it since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We implore the Senate to protect vulnerable individuals who have pre-existing conditions and to protect the Medicaid expansion programs so that an estimated 24 million additional people do not lose their coverage. The NAFC stands ready to work with the lawmakers to address the needs of the medically underserved throughout the country and to ensure that health care becomes more affordable and accessible for all Americans.
About the Organization:
The NAFC is the only nonprofit 501c(3) organization whose mission is solely focused on the issues and needs of the medically underserved throughout the nation and the more than 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics that serve them. Founded in 2001 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., the NAFC is working to ensure that the medically underserved have access to affordable quality health care and strives to be a national voice promoting quality health care for all. The organization believes that access to health care should be a right, not a privilege, and it values volunteerism, community ownership, service and collaboration.