The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) and our members continue to place people over politics by supporting, advocating for and serving the health care needs of the uninsured and medically underserved throughout our country. Our mission is to ensure that the medically underserved have access to affordable quality health care and our vision is to be a national voice promoting quality health care for all.
Annually, 1.7 million people through 5.9 million patient visits receive health care at America’s 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics. This is accomplished by dedicated staff and over 160,000 volunteers, including 30,000 medical providers, 21,000 nurses and almost 71,000 non-medical volunteers. Free and Charitable Clinics focus on the overall needs of patients by providing medical, dental, pharmaceutical, behavioral health, vision, and health education services and ensuring that uninsured and underinsured Americans have a medical home.
As President Trump recently addressed Congress and the nation, he called on Congress to Repeal and Replace the Affordable Care Act “with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.” This week, the House of Representatives introduced their ACA Repeal/Repair legislation, which is currently being reviewed and voted upon.
The NAFC is frustrated that the legislation does nothing to address the needs of the approximately 29 million people that still remained uninsured and without access to affordable health care, but instead will likely result in an even larger number of people becoming uninsured.
As Congress and the Administration continue to discuss and debate the future of health care in our country, our belief system is clear. The following outlines our beliefs as it pertains to the accessibility, affordability and portability of health care, as well as the importance of Free and Charitable Clinics, Charitable Pharmacies, volunteers and other partners in health, and charitable giving.
- We believe access to health care should be a right, not a privilege.
- We believe in human dignity and access to quality, compassionate health care.
- We believe that access to affordable health care should be available to individuals regardless of their age, sex, income, education, ethnicity, color of skin, religion, sexual orientation or identity.
- We believe that the millions of people who have received access to health care through expanded insurance and Medicaid programs should remain eligible for those coverages.
- We believe that the 29 million people who have not yet been able to access health insurance or care through expanded programs should have access to affordable and accessible health care, and not be forgotten by our health care system.
- We believe that individuals should not be denied health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
- We believe that individuals should be able to stay on their parent’s insurance plan until they are 26 years old.
- We believe that seeing a doctor should not be so cost-prohibitive that individuals avoid seeing one until a point where they are so sick they have no choice but to visit a hospital emergency room.
- We believe that no one should have to go bankrupt due to medical bills, and that there should be no annual or lifetime cap on health care expenses covered by insurance.
- We believe that people should not have to choose between buying food for their family and paying their insurance premium.
- We believe that health insurers should be prohibited from charging women higher rates than men for the same services.
- We believe that America needs to do a better job as a nation of addressing the health care gaps, including mental health care, preventative care, chronic disease management, dental care and substance abuse.
- We believe in the protection of funding for the Title X Breast and Cervical Cancer program, a program that ensures that medically underserved and uninsured women are able to receive important breast and cervical cancer screenings.
- We believe that America’s 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics are an essential part of the safety net and should be recognized as such by the Federal Government.
- We believe that Free and Charitable Clinics should be eligible for Federal Funds to assist them as they continue to fill the gaps in our nation’s health care system by providing accessible and affordable health care to the uninsured and medically underserved.
- We believe that Free and Charitable Clinics should be eligible for Federal Funding opportunities that address wellness and prevention.
- We believe that policy conversations regarding Medicaid restructuring and funding need to include feasibility of the continuation, accessibility and affordability of care for both patients and state budgets.
- We believe that medication costs should not be so astronomical that patients are cutting their prescriptions in half to make them last longer or not taking them at all.
- We believe that Free and Charitable Clinics should be eligible to participate in the 340b discounted drug pricing program to allow our patients access to more affordable medications.
- We believe in the individuality of Free and Charitable Clinics and their ability to adapt to community needs and resources.
- We believe in and value volunteerism as well as the development and expansion of federal programs that encourage individuals to give back with their time and talents.
- We believe in community ownership, service and public/private collaborations.
- We believe that the Charitable Tax deduction should be protected and expanded to encourage charitable giving.
These beliefs will guide the NAFC in the upcoming months and years. We are eager to work with President Trump, his administration, Congress and Secretary Price to ensure that the voices of the medically underserved and of Free and Charitable Clinics and Charitable Pharmacies across the nation are heard, appreciated and included.