American Morning

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July 20th, 2009
11:50 AM ET

Caring for the uninsured

It's a startling statistic. 47 million Americans with no health insurance. Where do they go to get treatment? In many cases, they rely on charities like the one we profiled: Remote Area Medical, based in Knoxville, Tennessee. The organization sets up free health care events all over the country. We visited one in the small town of Newport, Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

It was held at the local high school. And before sunrise, people were lining up in wheelchairs and holding babies for a chance to receive medical, dental and eye care at no cost. We met one man whose blood pressure was so high, doctors said he was on the verge of having a stroke.

The organization was founded by Stan Brock, who once appeared regularly on the hit wildlife adventure program "Wild America." Now he leads what he calls "medical expeditions" in remote parts of the U.S. where you'll find scores of Americans with little or no health insurance. The demand is so great in the U.S., Brock says, he's had to cut back on his expeditions to places like Haiti and Guatemala.

The services and equipment are all covered by donations to the organization. And many of the doctors, dentists, and nurses on-hand fly in from across the country on their own dime. Later this summer, Remote Area will be holding events in Southwestern Virginia, on an Indian Reservation in Utah and in Los Angeles where the group expects over ten thousand patients.

While Washington is debating national health care reform, Brock is calling on governors across the country to change little-known laws that stop many doctors from practicing outside of their home states. Tennessee, he says, is one of the few places where any doctor or dentist can fly in from other states to heal the uninsured.

Filed under: Health
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. jim vicalvi

    While I did vote for Mccain and not Obummer it was just voting for the lesser of 2 evils. Neither of them would have made a good dog catcher. However, they were the best money can buy. This is the best we have? I think not. Obummer has taken over the auto industry and a good part of the banking industry. Now he is aiming for the insurance industry. They say that we have over 45 million uninsured. How do they come up with that figure. If the govt. did it I would automatically reduce it by 50%. Now, there are over 250 million US citizens. Taking the corrected figure that would mean that less than 10% are uninsured. Take out the 12 million ILLEGAL aliens that our bleeding heart liberals say we have to take care of and we are down to less than 5 % of the American population. If you deduct the people that just plain don't want insurance there really aren't that many people without ins. I was surprised that Obummer didn't nominate a person for Sec. of State named Chavez!!

    July 21, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  2. Tim Hendon, Hammond, LA

    As a resident of Louisiana, Governor Jindal is LAST person that I would ask about health care. As the previous head of the Department of Health and Hospitals under the Foster Administration, Jindal cut public funding for Medicaid and even had a hand in having state run hospitals sold to private organizations.

    As governor, Jindal has once again cut funding to healthcare and only has one interest at heart and that is seeing that his campaign supporters remain in business. Jindal receives thousands of dollars in campaign money from private insurance companies. Jindal has no right to be any type of anaylist on healthcare because he does not care about the quality of healthcare that the residents of his own state receive.

    Under Jindal's Administration, services are cut. medical staff reduced, and quality of healthcare in the state have fallen to level that can be classified as medical negligence!

    July 21, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  3. Bernice

    As long as I am paying for LEGAL US citizens here!! I am getting quite tired of having to pay for everyone else that is NOT a LEGAL AMERICAN CITIZEN! It is bad enough that we sent other countries BILLIONS to help them (even tho we can not even help ourselves). It is about time that we took care of ourselves for a change! It could be done if we cover all legal Americans and rid ourselves of the illegal immagration problem here in the USA! Send them home and watch our costs drop!

    July 21, 2009 at 5:42 am |
  4. Diane Myers

    1. Encouraging Nurse Practitioners in clinics in stores (Krogers,Wal-Mart). Regular storefront clinics for patients with basic, simple,to the point services for low income, and no insurance patients in remote areas where hospital and doctor access is limited.

    2. Free Health Fairs every weekend in rural areas would be great!

    3. Making it mandatory for newly graduated doctors to serve 2 to 5 years in rural America before they are allowed to join a huge,up scale practices in major cities would help alleviate ares with no current physicians.

    4. Encouraging midwifery with other functions besides deliveries would help with women who need breast exams, pelvic exams, SDT care, medications,birth control education if necessary and desired, and referrals for more serious conditions that might otherwise go undetected.

    5. Mobile x-rays, scanning and laboratories for outlying regions to supply chest x-rays,bone scans, blood tests,etc for the elderly,infirmed and the young who cannot go to larger areas for health care or who have no insurance.

    6. Since tobacco and alcohol and drugs are responsible for billions of dollars each year of health issues, tax their profits toward health care. Since the gun lobbies think every American should have a gun, tax their organizations for medical expenses and trauma caused by gunshot wounds. Any monies collected from drug busts should be used for treatment of health issues caused by these drugs.

    7. Financial caps on how much drug companies can charge for ANY drug.

    8. Allowing people to use internet, and cross borders into other countries to obtain medications at affordable rates. Tax the drug companies heavily for profits made in this country for drugs that are sold here. Many of these companies are foreign. Make it illegal for the drug lobbies to put out scare tactics about foreign drugs.

    July 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  5. ww4cash

    I also don't think some should have their health care premiums shielded from tax, while the rest of us, don't get that deduction. I buy my own health care. Why treat one group different from another, for the exact same product? The Unions have gotten the country in enough trouble (Steel, Automotive, etc.) treat us all as equal taxpayers.

    July 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  6. ww4cash

    I agree with the one that proposed a Sales Tax to pay for Health Care. But, lets just insure the ones that, from their IRS Tax Forms, show they cannot afford it themselves. Put the Sales Tax in a pot and spread it among the Health Care Providers to pay for their insurance. No Illegals, only Citizens and LEGAL aliens. Many of the uninsured can and do Self Insure (pay for it themselves).. Others prefer a nice bass boat (insert toy here) to insurance. Others really can't afford it, and those are the ones we should help first, and subsidize later, as their income increased, to the point we can stop subsidizing them. Cheaper, efficient, and little involvement of Government.

    July 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm |