The past few nights, thousands of people have lined up outside of the Forum in Los Angeles. a venue that usually hosts basketball games or big arena concerts. Who’s in town to attract such a crowd? Metallica? Green Day? No, even better—doctors and dentists providing free care on a first-come, first-served basis.
What’s that, you say? People lining up for rationed health care voluntarily? That can’t be right.
The Forum, located in Inglewood, Calif., is hosting a visit from Remote Area Medical (RAM), a volunteer group that usually provides free medical, dental, and veterinary care to people living in poverty in remote areas. Recent cuts to Medicaid and health care programs for California’s working poor have left many people without care quite suddenly. RAM has found a grateful population in Los Angeles—some of whom drove hours to wait in line for care.
Ana Maria Garcia, who works for Orange County, has health insurance that covers her husband and 3 ½-year-old daughter, but her dental deductibles are too high for them all to get care, she said.
Ms. Garcia’s husband, Jorge, who was laid off from his custodial job last October, arrived from their home – a 90-minute drive away – at 4 p.m. on Tuesday to get the family’s spot in line.
But the Garcias’ number never came up, so they slept in their car for a few hours and lined up again early Wednesday morning, awaiting a chance to get root canals and cleanings that Ms. Garcia figured were worth thousands of dollars. They made a friend in the bleachers outside, who gave the family some coffee and hot biscuits for breakfast.
“Regardless if you are employed or not,” Ms. Garcia said, “everything in California is expensive, and so I can empathize with everyone here. Looking at this crowd, I think this is what people fear health care is going to be with reform. But to me it also shows the need.”
Interestingly, more people would be able to receive care, but there was a shortage of medical professionals in the area willing to volunteer their time.
Thousands Line Up for Promise of Free Health Care [NY Times] (Thanks, Kelly!)
(Photo: meta viendo)