Bobby Parker, a 63-year-old woman from the Houston suburb of Channelworth, had severe hypertension, putting her at grave risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease. She needed immediate care, and I escorted her to the mobile medical unit for more extensive screening. With us walked her 19-year-old granddaughter Amanda who suffers with acid reflux disease. She recently lost her Medicaid coverage and cannot afford medical care to evaluate the problem or her prescription to keep it under control, giving her severe discomfort from the heartburn and putting her at risk for esophageal cancer. Her grandmother has an advanced degree in social work and worked her entire life in social services helping those in need. Should either woman be in this situation?

Anthony DeLane saw the free clinic on television that morning and decided to show up for problems he was having with his foot. Anthony actually had a diabetic foot ulcer with exposed bone that led to a serious infection making its way up his leg. People often lose toes or feet at this advanced stage. Anthony works long hours as a commercial driver but doesn't have health insurance. He was rushed to the hospital and will get the care he needs to hopefully save his foot. Can you imagine the irony of a truck driver losing his foot so he can no longer work, all because he could not afford health coverage?

These stories put a face on 47 million Americans without coverage. Many are hardworking people who took wrong turns in their lives; 83 percent of the 4 million people seen last year in free clinics were employed. Analeigha's mother worked. Anthony DeLane worked. Bobby Parker had worked her whole life. Should working people not have the option to see doctors when bones are protruding from their feet? If most of the people we saw Saturday were employed, it should be apparent to all of us that many people are one paycheck away from losing their existing insurance. These people work hard. They went to school. They deserve better from us.

Fixing our healthcare system


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