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Tess Vigeland: Most of the media coverage of the health-care debate this week centered on protesters who say their health care is just fine. Thank you very much. And keep your government mitts off.
Well, here in Los Angeles a different kind of event put a face on the nearly 50 million Americans who don’t have access to affordable health care.
A Tennessee-based non-profit group called the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps came to town. They used to provide free medical care in Third World nations. Now, they provide it in this country.
Thousands of people gathered in the parking lot of the old Forum basketball arena. They took a number and waited for hours to be seen by volunteer doctors and nurses. We sent Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek-Smith to listen to some of their stories.
TAMIKA SCOTT: Tamika Scott, I work in a group home. Well, my foot has been in pain for like the last four or five months. But, I want, I need to be seen. I need to let a doctor tell me, instead of self-analyze myself. And at this time I’m only down to 18 hours a week, for more like having a paycheck of $103, down to $36. So could you imagine having health payments taken out of my check?
JULIAN AlTIER: Julian here. Tattoo artist and painter. All kinds of aches and pains, my back and knees, see what they say about my dental, see what’s going on.
ANGELA PARKER: Angela Parker, a data entry clerk. And I don’t have anything. That’s why I’m here today. Called Kaiser to ask them for one person, that’s about $300 to $400. I mean who could afford that? Nobody! At least I can’t.
CESIALA ROJO: Cesiala Rojo, and I’m starting at the University of La Verne. I have a hole in my roof. I have a root canal that got started and never finished. It’s too expensive, we’re students. There’s three college students at our house, so it’s like, I guess medical gets put on the back burner over eating and the roof over your head.
ZORA ROSS: Zora Ross. I am actually a nurse when I work. I haven’t had dental work done since about 12 years, I went in for an emergency. My gums bleed, and my teeth are all loose. I don’t have any kind of insurance right now.
LUCERO ROJO: Lucero Rojo, when we heard about this it was a heaven sent gift over here, and the doctors in there, and everybody working in there. I just want to hug them. I just want to go in there and hug everybody and thank them so much for doing this. It’s a blessing.
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