Debate Changer?

Free Health Care Lures Thousands

The success of a free urban health event in Los Angeles could throw off angry town-hall protesters. A Tennessee-based organization, Remote Area Medical, is running a no-fee eight-day clinic that includes dental, medical, and vision services in Los Angeles, the New York Times reports. On Tuesday, the first day of the clinic, volunteers provided 1,448 services to about 600 people, including 95 tooth extractions, 470 fillings, 140 pairs of eyeglasses, 96 Pap smears, and 93 tuberculosis tests. Organizers let 1,500 people in the door, but 500 of them hadn't been served by the end of the day and returned in the wee hours of Wednesday to line up again. Many patients at the clinic said they lacked insurance, had coverage but not enough to meet their needs, or couldn't afford their coverage. This is Remote Area Medical's first operation in such a large metropolitan area, although they've provided services in mid-sized cities such as New Orleans. Organizers expect to serve 8,000 people by the time the clinic is over. They aren't weighing in on the health-care debate, though. Remote Area Medical's founder said that his position on the Obama plan is only "that I am delighted to see so much focus on the health-care issue."