by Max Brantley
LINING UIP: Houston Chronicle blog photo shows people lining up for free clinic in Houston in September.
The National Association of Free Clinics will hold one of its mass free medical/dental clinics at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock Nov. 21.
That's the word from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who said he'd been working on such an event for some time. As luck would have it, I'd been beating the drum for such an event all day following word on Keith Olbermann last night that he'd raised more than $800,000 in appeals to finance such clinics in new cities, including Little Rock.
Halter said more details are to follow, including arrangements for using the convention center space. I've still been unable, after eight hours of trying, to speak with the director of the NAFC, Nicole Lamoureux. But the city convention bureau confirms reservation of the center for Nov. 21, in a deal worked out by the city manager's office and Halter.
The organization participated in mass clinics in September in Los Angeles and Houston. They drew widespread media attention for the thousands of people who turned out with pressing medical problems.
The clinics serve, of course, as graphic illustration of shortcomings in the U.S. health delivery system. Olbermann has touted them as ways to deliver a message to political leaders resistant to universal care, though the nonprofit organization carefully sidesteps partisan politics and is a 501c3 that enjoys support from pharmaceutical companies and some health care providers and the insurance industry. Sen. Blanche Lincoln's resistance to a government health care option no doubt put her in Olbermann's crosshairs.
Time later to develop all that. The news is that those in need can mark their calendars -- Nov. 21.
A state lottery to pay for college scholarships and a mass free medical/dental clinic. That's quite a resume to run for re-election as lieutenant governor next year. Maybe even something more. Just saying.