July 22, 2014 5:30 am • By David Wahlberg | Wisconsin State Journal
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Uninsured residents looking for health care fill the waiting room of Our Lady of Hope Clinic in Madison last year in this file photo.
If you go
What: Communities are Responding Everyday, or CARE, clinic — a free clinic organized by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.
When: Aug. 9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Alliant Energy Center, 1881 W. Expo Drive, Madison.
Who: Anyone who is uninsured or medically underserved can get free physical exams, tests, medications and other services.
Call: Walk-ins are accepted, but patients are encouraged to make appointments in advance by calling 1-800-340-1301.
For more information: www.nafcclinics.org.
A national organization that has set up massive free clinics around the country in recent years, mostly in larger cities, is holding its only clinic for the underserved this year in Madison.
The Alliant Energy Center will be transformed Aug. 9 into a clinic with 50 exam rooms, about 100 doctors and hundreds of nurses, organizers say. The providers will conduct physical exams, do blood and urine tests, offer free medications and connect an expected 1,000 patients with Wisconsin’s regular free clinics.
The Affordable Care Act is helping more people get insurance, but an estimated 222,000 Wisconsin residents will remain uninsured in 2016, said Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, which is putting on the Madison event.
Some people who have insurance have a hard time paying deductibles or co-payments, Lamoureux said.
“There seems to be a misconception that there is no longer going to be a need for free and charitable clinics,” she said. “We’re putting a face on those people who are still uninsured or underinsured.”
Representatives from some of the state’s 55 or so free clinics will be on hand to let patients know where they can get follow-up care, said Katherine Gaulke, chairwoman of a group forming a Wisconsin free clinic association.
“We’ll connect them to the existing resources,” Gaulke said. “It’s not a one-time thing.”
The Aug. 9 clinic will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted, but patients are encouraged to make appointments in advance by calling 800-340-1301.
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics held its first Communities are Responding Everyday, or CARE, clinic in Houston in 2009.
A dozen clinics have been held since then in New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Missouri, Tacoma, Washington, Hartford, Connecticut, and Little Rock, Arkansas.
An anonymous, deceased donor gave $1.4 million to the association this year. The person “thought Madison was an important place to hold one of our clinics,” Lamoureux said.
Wisconsin had an estimated 537,000 uninsured residents before the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage this year, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The number is expected to drop to 222,000 within two years, the foundation says.
About 63,000 residents lost Medicaid coverage and another 97,000 gained Medicaid coverage this year through Gov. Scott Walker’s budget.
About 134,000 residents bought insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange, or marketplace, according to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. It’s not clear how many of them were previously uninsured.
Most states, including neighboring Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, have more uninsured people than Wisconsin, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
But Lamoureux said the CARE clinic in Madison will highlight the need in Wisconsin. “It’s an opportunity for us to get the word out that people can get help,” she said.
Madison-area free clinics report a steady or declining demand for care this year.
Our Lady of Hope Clinic, on Madison’s West Side, treats about 85 uninsured patients a month, similar to previous years, said Julie Jensen, director of development. The patients are seen four days a
There’s “definitely a need” for the CARE clinic, Jensen said. “We aren’t seeing everybody who needs to be seen.”
Good Neighbor Clinic, in Prairie du Sac, sees about 55 patients a month, the same as previous years, said Mary Ann O’Brien, clinical director. It is open Monday and Wednesday afternoons.
Demand has dropped at Community Connections Free Clinic in Dodgeville, open Tuesday and Thursday evenings, said Molly Zuehlke, nurse manager.
“Instead of seeing 16 to 20 patients every clinic evening, we’re seeing eight to 10,” Zuehlke said.
The BSP Free Clinic in Middleton provides specialty care on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. After seeing about 145 patients a month in 2012, the clinic saw roughly a 5 percent drop in patient visits last year and has had another 5 percent decrease this year, said Dr. Tom Hirsch, medical director.
The improving economy and the state’s partial Medicaid expansion may have contributed to the decline, Hirsch said.
Some of the local free clinics said they’ll participate in the CARE clinic but others said they weren’t sure if they’d be able to.
Access Community Health Centers, which provides low-cost care, but not free care, to low-income people with or without insurance, saw a 30 percent increase in new patients in April and May compared to previous months, said Tammy Quall, chief strategy officer.
The proportion of new patients who are uninsured dropped to about 20 percent in April and May, compared to about 40 percent in previous months, Quall said.
Access added a doctor within the past year and is looking at other ways to manage the influx of patients, she said.
“There’s always going to be more need in the community than what we can provide,” Quall said.
Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/health_med_fit/mass-free-health-clinic-coming-to-alliant-energy-center-aug/article_f2c66e34-5895-50d9-b3be-0d482144f5f8.html#ixzz38IpdQbk6
2014 WDA Mission of Mercy
June 27-28, 2014
KI Center, Green Bay, Wis.