A Conservative Way of Providing Medicine to the Poor

Health care for the poor does not, I say again, not have to flow from the government. Just ask the people of Warren County, VA:

Warren County, Virginia, at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River has neither the rolling hills of horse country nor the fertile plains of the Shenandoah Valley.

Of its 36,000 citizens, an estimated 6,000 are uninsured. Typically, when they get sick, the uninsured go to the emergency room, which is about the most inefficient and costly way of delivering primary medical care.

But, thanks to the initiative of some local Christians, the uninsured of Warren County can instead go to the St. Luke Community Clinic for free medical care. In FY 2006, 2,633 uninsured people did just that.

St. Luke Clinic is one of an estimated two thousand Free Clinics around the country, fifty of them in Virginia. In 2006, the total budget of all the Free Clinics in Virginia was about $18 million, which they leveraged to a value in excess of $80 million.

The Free Clinic movement is living embodiment of many conservative principles: the principles of subsidiarity and voluntarism, the spirit of enterprise and of community self-reliance. As health care becomes more and more of a national concern, if people are truly concerned about the less fortunate, there should be a population explosion in the number of free clinics around the country.

Please note, there are Free Clinics and then there are "free clinics":

Free Clinics are private, non-profit organizations that provide medical, dental, pharmaceutical and/or mental health services at little or no cost to low-income, uninsured and underinsured people. These clinics are truly free - both to their clients and to the taxpayers.

Unlike federally-qualified so-called "free clinics", they do not submit receipts to Medicare or Medicaid for reimbursement. St. Luke and the other authentic Free Clinics in Virginia do not submit bills to anybody for reimbursement.

How do they do it? Volunteers.
The small staff includes one part-time doctor, but most of the medical skills come from the volunteer nurses, doctors, labs, and hospitals.
And don't tell the lefties, but the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil pharmaceutical companies help out a lot.

The biggest chunk of the leverage is pharmaceuticals. Every major pharmaceutical company has a free donation plan, or Patient Assistance Program. By maximizing those programs, St. Luke was able to dispense 31,134 prescriptions in 2006. However, every company has different medications, rules, forms, and schedules. The process is so complicated that the clinic employs two staff members work on it only slightly less than full-time. In 2006, the Free Clinics in Virginia provided about $42 million worth of donated medications to all their patients.
This is how you get health care to those with no insurance. Instead of installing a government program, you Americans, among the most generous people on the face of the planet, offer their services for free. The government can help, tho.

All the good intentions in the world would not make a free clinic possible in our litigious society. But that problem has been solved in Virginia, whose example could easily be followed.

With the help of the Virginia Association of Free Clinics, the state recently established the "VaRISK2" liability risk management program. Operating under the Division of Risk Management of the Department of the Treasury, of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the program indemnifies Directors, Officers, employees, and volunteers in a Free Clinic.

Volunteers in private medical clinics received federal tort claim coverage when Senator Dan Coats' 1996 Medical Volunteer Act became law as part of the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Care Reform Act. Prior to Coats' action, only volunteers in government-funded clinics typically received coverage for liability at the federal level.

And it's that simple. No HillaryCare needed.