Clinic would help with those rainy days
Jan 31, 2012 | 962 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to my fortune cookie the other day, into everyone’s life a little rain must come. Maybe it comes in the form of a wayward ship on a rainy day knocking out the bridge you regularly cross, effectively turning your daily commute into a two-hour trek. Or maybe it’s really rain pouring down through the leaky roof of a municipal building.

That’s the thing with fortune cookies— it’s too easy to take them literally. Maybe it’s better to think of the rain in more figurative terms. Bad luck, bad choices, bad days. They happen to everyone at some time. Maybe it’s the death or divorce, picking the wrong career path or not picking one at all.

Whatever the reason, there’s always times in life when things get overwhelming.

Sure, we try to say bad things won’t happen if you just prepare. Eat your vegetables, quit smoking and put 10 percent of your income back for a rainy day. Don’t drink too much, don’t forget to change your oil every 3,000 miles and don’t just pay the minimum on your credit card bill.

But there’s also another fortune cookie saying— if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

That’s the way life works sometimes. No matter how close an eye you keep on your diet, no matter what vices you give up, bad health can come to anyone. Credit cards and car bills can catch up. Before long, no matter how much you’re working or saving, you can find it all too much to keep up with.

And in today’s economy, it’s happening to more and more families. Employers find themselves with difficult decisions to keep doors open, such as reducing workers or reducing benefits. Unfortunately, in a community our size, they aren’t just families. They’re neighbors. Customers. Family members.

And, if the recent stories in the news are any indication, it’s unrealistic to expect any help coming from the powers that be. Collapsing bridges, public buildings using buckets to keep water away from emergency services equipment, continuous budget reductions.

But there are ways to help.

Last week, the Tribune-Courier featured a growing effort to provide at least some medical care for those who can’t afford it.

Now, most people’s knee-jerk reaction to that statement is, “Yeah, I already pay taxes.”

True enough. And a portion of those taxes go to help thousands with healthcare through Medicaid, Medicare, WIC, and dozens of other acronyms. There’s a variety of programs for those not working or the children of those unable to provide basic healthcare.

There isn’t much help, however, for the working poor. It’s an overlooked— but quickly growing— portion of communities across the country. There’s not a single stereotype they fit into. Maybe it’s a single mom working two minimum wage jobs, neither of which offer insurance coverage. Maybe it’s a tradesman who suddenly finds no calling for his skill in a down economy.

Whatever the reason, it’s easy for anyone to find themselves with a medical condition and suddenly barely able to make ends meet.

Those families— those neighbors and friends— are the ones who could benefit most by the proposed community clinic.

It makes sense on more than one level. Sure, there’s the up-front feeling that comes from doing something good. There are lots of ways to get that. Many don’t even take that much effort.

Providing medical care for those working has other benefits. For employers, it means a healthier workforce, irregardless of what benefits they’re able to offer. It also means less lost work time.

It also makes sense for healthcare providers– hospitals, doctor offices and the like. Doctors and hospitals are like any other business. Every year they’re forced to write off tens of thousands in bad debt, bills for services they provided but were unable to collect because their customers couldn’t or wouldn’t pay.

In turn, they’re forced to increase the cost of services. That doesn’t mean much to those with no intent to pay, or those on one of the safety net programs. But for those who pay their bills, it means the bad debt gets passed along to them.

A community clinic wouldn’t completely alleviate the problems created by a workforce without health coverage, but it is a step in that direction.

For more information on how to help with the clinic, email ggsmith@mchsi.com or phone 703-0632.
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