Majority of Free Clinics Have Had to Turn Away Needy Patients

Free ClinicFree clinics and the uninsured are paying a heavy price for the nation's teetering recovery: More than half of free clinics are now turning away eligible patients -- many for the first time -- according to an AmeriCares report published Wednesday.

Shrinking staff, expensive lab tests and drugs, and declining financial support are proving to be a prescription for disaster for the nation's uninsured, the study found through interviews of staff at 300 clinics.

Making matters worse is that 89% of the facilities experienced a rise in patient visits overall, including a signification surge of repeat patients for chronic ailments. Even beyond the 56% of clinics that have been forced to reject patients, there is a widespread problem of insufficient and often shrinking resources. According to the report, up to 97% of clinics surveyed said there's enough demand for their services that they could justify boosting their operational capacity by 10% to 20% -- if they had the means to do so.

"Without adequate resources, free clinics are unlikely to keep pace with the widening expanse of patient demand," said Tammy Allen, the project director for AmeriCares' U.S. Medical Assistance Program.

Approximately 3,800 patients logged a total of 10,000 visits at AmericCares' three clinics in Connecticut at a cost of $6 million, the company said.

A recent free clinic held at the Tacoma Dome, normally a sports stadium in Tacoma, Wash., underscores the dilemma of the uninsured. The April 30 event attracted 1,500 walk-ins -- a record for a gathering co-sponsored by the National Association of Free Clinics and Communities Are Responding Everyday (C.A.R.E.), officials said.

About 46 million Americans -- roughly 15% of the population -- don't have health insurance, according to statistics cited by the government.

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1500 walk-ins for a free clinic. wow. that's alot of people! somebody lying. probably thought they were giving out free snacks or something.

July 19 2011 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm starting a podcast along these same lines called Tales of the Great Recession to share peoples stories of long term joblessness, from the struggle of a long search to the joy of finding a job, and what you learned in-between. Please send your stories to The first podcast will be available free through itunes on 7/22, and I plan on doing it as a weekly podcast for as long as the stories keep coming in.

July 16 2011 at 12:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Our wonderful government, who swore to uphold the constitution that they are ignoriing, did this to our country... as they gave themselves raises! People, we must get mad and find a way to hold our clueless, out of control government accountable. The American People feel helpless as our government spends money it doesnt have, serving itself first, and the people second... or third. This is why our founding fathers made it a law for us to be able to carry guns. Do you think for one second that Thomas Jefferson wouldnt pick up his musket and say "TIME FOR THIS GOVERNMENT TO GO!"?

July 15 2011 at 1:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DDerr's comment

Our government serves corporate America and the interests of the elites.

July 16 2011 at 11:19 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The whole governmental system is bloated and corrupt!... It's the central banks and the banking system who are really are running the show!... We will continue to go into meltdown, but you just watch banks profit from all the suffering!

July 15 2011 at 12:31 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

under obama's companies/pharms win..doctors/patients lose.

July 15 2011 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to malcolm's comment

That's why we needed a public option

July 16 2011 at 11:20 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


July 15 2011 at 8:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to bushsnitemare2's comment

wheres the obama healthcare lol

July 15 2011 at 12:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sigmar's comment


July 15 2011 at 10:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I dread to see the so called fix for our healthcare system kick in because we will have socialized care just like Canada. Who will pay for all the extra people on medicaid? Everybody that's who. Our taxes will skyrocket and the care will be even more managed and controlled by insurance companies. The biggest winner of Obamacare is health insurance companies. Nobody in office had the guts to address the real problem with healthcare in America and that is the insurance companies that refused to provide the service that people paid for. Insurance companies have powerful lobbies in Washington and they contribute heavily to the campaigns of their favored players. Consumers in America have lost their protection against companies across the board and that's when everything went downhill. 30+ years ago, insurance companies provided the level of coverage that people paid for and we didn't have the abuse and negligence we experience today.

July 14 2011 at 11:55 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Jean's comment

There is so much waste & fraud in Medicaid now, I can't believe that Obama would even think that it can handle an even larger number of people as proposed under his health plan. One thing I have noticed is that many people who are on medicaid make many more unnecessary visits to the doctor & hospital.I know these people and I find it offensive that taxpayers have to cover the excessive medical care these people demand. People who pay for their coverage or do not have coverage do not even think of going to a doctor except for an annual check-up or for some kind of illness or injury that they cannot handle themselves.

July 14 2011 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Think this is bad ? Wait until 2014 when ObamaCare kicks in full force. If the USA is not in the trash heap of history by then, due to a total economic meltdown brough on by BOTH politicial parties. Senior citizens are going to be hit hard on cost of Medicare, the cost is as follows: 2009 @ $96.40, 2010 @ $104.20, 2011 @ $120.20, then, the biggie, 2014 @ $247.oo hang onto you wallet...we are going for a ride !

July 14 2011 at 10:01 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply