KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Souring Economy Spurs A Surge At Free Clinics

Free clinics throughout the Washington area report a surge in patients, a trend that is "expected to continue in the worsening economy," The Washington Post reports. At the Arlington Free Clinic, for example, "applications to see a doctor have more than doubled in a year. In Reston, a similar clinic has seen 40 percent more patients in 10 months."

"In an effort to help expand" the much-needed free clinic services, "Dominion Resources donated $1 million yesterday to more than 100 free clinics nationwide, including about three dozen in Virginia and one in Maryland." Free clinics, which "provide services to people who can't afford insurance or don't qualify for government health programs" depend on "donations and volunteer medical staff to care for 4 million patients a year."

Experts say that the increases in free clinic visits nationwide are largely "driven by people whose incomes had been cut" during the recession, "making them eligible for the services." Last year, the "percentage of U.S. residents who reported having trouble paying for health care or prescriptions during the previous 12 months rose from 18 percent in January 2008 to 21 percent in December, according to a Gallup poll" (Jenkins, 6/3).  

The AP/Houston Chronicle adds that the Dominion funding will go to the 14 states where the energy company operates: "Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin" (6/2).  

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