Area poor, left out of health debate, look for free care

WISE, Va. (AP) – The sick and poor in Appalachia are flocking to free health clinics. They’ve been left out of the health care debate in Washington.

At a recent clinic in southwestern Virginia, hundreds came for help with their throbbing teeth, failing eyes and wheezing lungs.

Even with the passage of “Obamacare” in 2010, many of them have no insurance because they exist in a desperate in-between zone, unable to afford coverage but ineligible for Medicaid. Virginia is among 19 states that chose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care act.

The clinic is put on by the traveling Remote Area Medical clinic and health officials in Virginia. On a hot weekend over the summer, it helped 2,000 people.

Organizers say the clinic is growing every year.

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