The services of health care providers such as Aundrea Christian (left) and Dr. Paul Moore will still be needed at charitable clinics such as Friends In Need Health Center Inc. Photo by Ned Jilton II.
KINGSPORT — Friends In Need believes it will still be needed despite Obamacare’s uncertain impact on charity care programs.
“We’re going to wait and see how this stacks up in 2014, and then we will evaluate it,” Friends in Need Executive Director Bruce Sites said of the impact of Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. “The consensus of all the charitable clinics is we ought to continue doing what we are now. Our assumption is we will continue to have a patient base without affordable [health] insurance.”
From its West Stone Drive location, Friends in Need provides on-site primary care and dental care as well as referrals to other volunteer physicians and professionals for specialized care. The not-for-profit organization serves the working uninsured in Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee and in Scott County, Va.
Friends in Need’s 7,000-member client base includes people who are working but do not have the income to purchase health insurance; those who have jobs that don’t provide health insurance; and people who are becoming independent from government-assistance programs.
The uncertainty stems from Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges. Neither Tennessee nor Virginia developed its own state health insurance exchanges, and neither has expanded Medicaid programs as allowed by Obamacare.
The Obama administration continues to sign up an unspecified number of Tennesseans and Virginians for coverage in a federal health insurance exchange. As of last Wednesday, the administration reported more than 2 million Americans had selected plans from the state and federal insurance exchange marketplaces.For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.