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.