by Max Brantley
We brought you this news yesterday, but Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has issued a news release today with more details on the Nov. 21 free medical clinic to be held at Little Rock's Statehouse Convention Center.
Halter was inspired, as we were Wednesday night, by MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann. He's been promoting the national free clinic efforts along with the push for universal health care legislation.
Here's an idea: Mike Ross and Blanche Lincoln volunteer to help with the crowds. They could explain to people with untreated pains why a government health insurance plan is such a bad idea. Why they'd never vote for expanding Medicare to serve all.
Should they drop by, somebody clip this Paul Krugman column for their reading pleasure. The tide may be turning against the insurance companies.
HALTER NEWS RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK (October 16, 2009) -- The Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock will be the site of a free medical clinic for people seeking care from a health professional on Saturday, November 21, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter said today. The National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC), a national nonprofit organization, will operate the clinic.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Arkansans who need health care to get the medical attention they sorely need, at least for a day. We are profoundly grateful to the National Association of Free Clinics and to Keith Olbermann, without whom this would not be happening,” Halter said.
The NAFC will set up a registration process for patients and volunteers leading up to the November 21 clinic. The Alexandria, Va.-based non-profit organization operates as an advocate for more than 1,200 free medical clinics and the people they serve nationwide. The non-profit organization engages a volunteer workforce of doctors, dentists, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, technicians and other health care professionals to help meet the medical needs of patients served by free clinics.
The NAFC has received donations from people responding to a call from Olbermann, an MSNBC news anchor, for free medical clinics in six states, including Arkansas. Olbermann issued the call last week during his hour-long “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” program, which airs at 7 p.m. CST Monday through Friday on MSNBC. He announced the date and location of the Little Rock clinic on Thursday night’s program and also reported that 13,600 people had donated more than $1 million to the NAFC.
“I applaud Keith Olbermann for the passion and sense of urgency he has brought to the national health-care debate,” Halter said. “I congratulate him, along with thousands of Americans, who have opened their wallets to help make these free medical clinics a reality.”
Halter said he believed the one-day clinic also would help raise awareness of the free clinics already operating in Arkansas that work daily to fill the gaps in health care for the uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved.
The Lieutenant Governor arranged the date and location for the clinic, working with Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the NAFC. Lamoureux booked the bottom floor of Convention Center, which offers more than 80,000 square feet of space for the one-day clinic.
Halter has spoken with Governor Mike Beebe, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays about the free clinic. He also spoke with the chief executives of the Arkansas Medical Society, the Arkansas Hospital Association, and the Arkansas Registered Nurses Association.
“The important thing was to get a date and location nailed down,” Halter said. “Many more details are to come. There is a lot of work to do in a relatively short period of time.”
U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that, on average, 492,000 Arkansans (17.6 percent of the state’s population) were without health insurance coverage during the three-year period of 2006 through 2008.