As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Oddly, Nobody Protests This Health Care Forum

This week, Remote Area Medical, an organization that got its start providing health care services to the impoverished in the Third World, descended on Inglewood to provide those same services to the most disenfranchised group, from a medical care standpoint, in the industrialized world - the uninsured and underinsured in America.

They came for new teeth mostly, but also for blood pressure checks, mammograms, immunizations and acupuncture for pain. Neighboring South Los Angeles is a place where health care is scarce, and so when it was offered nearby, word got around.

For the second day in a row, thousands of people lined up on Wednesday — starting after midnight and snaking into the early hours — for free dental, medical and vision services, courtesy of a nonprofit group that more typically provides mobile health care for the rural poor.

Like a giant MASH unit, the floor of the Forum, the arena where Madonna once played four sold-out shows, housed aisle upon aisle of dental chairs, where drilling, cleaning and extracting took place in the open. A few cushions were duct-taped to a folding table in a coat closet, an examining room where Dr. Eugene Taw, a volunteer, saw patients.

These were not only uninsured patients, over 1,500 in the first day alone, but underinsured patients who cannot get the services they need with their coverage.

No cable news outlet discussing health care reform and the town halls around it ever get around to mentioning this reality. In the poorest areas of this country, health care access is so nonexistent that people will wait around for days in their cars, driving for sometimes hundreds of miles, to find a volunteer clinic that they now use as their primary care physician. South Los Angeles lost one of its only health care providers when King-Drew Medical Center shut down a couple years back, and really nobody, outside of Remote Area Medical, has filled the breach. This is an absolute tragedy, and at the end of the day, it costs our medical system far more than it would to cover everyone, because nagging problems only served by free clinics every couple years eventually find their way into the emergency room. And the disconnect between this circumstance and those right-wingers yelling and shrieking across the country is striking.

The enormous response to the free care was a stark corollary to the hundreds of Americans who have filled town-hall-style meetings throughout the country, angrily expressing their fear of the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the nation’s health care system. The bleachers of patients also reflected the state’s high unemployment, recent reduction in its Medicaid services for the poor and high deductibles and co-payments that have come to define many employer-sponsored insurance programs.

Somebody should leak to one of the astroturf groups activating the right about these town halls that there will be a major Congressional event over at the Forum in Inglewood, and then sit back and watch their face sink when they show up to protest and instead encounter the horrors of this broken system.

...from a reader:

"Obama should be at this event, talking to people and forcing the media to cover it. He should even invite/dare the three health care CEOs who told Congress they would still use recission to cut costs."

This is something Digby and I just said to each other about a minute ago. He's already out west this weekend. There's no sharper way to bring forward the case for changing the system. And sure, the Malkinites will start looking up the addresses of those being helped, and if they have cell phones or TVs or granite countertops, but I think the witness of this giant line of thousands of people with no outlet but to practically beg for health care would swamp the nonsense.

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