Free health clinics face more patients, less funding

While the economy may be recovering just a bit, times continue to be immensely difficult for free health clinics, whose patients loads are continuing to rise while corporate sponsors and charity cut back on their support.

Over the past year, the nation's 1,200 free clinics have seen their patient loads climb 40 to 50 percent. All in all, about 4 million Americans are expected to visit such clinics this year, with unemployment numbers hitting historic highs and people losing their health insurance. The clinics serve patients who don't have the ability to access federally-funded community health centers, often because they don't quality for Medicaid.

Unfortunately, groups like the CIGNA Foundation, which funds clinics in Philadelphia and southwestern Connecticut, have seen a corresponding jump in funding requests, but they've had to cut back on their clinic spending by 15 to 20 percent and stopped taking on new groups.

The question is, will the federal or state government or employers dig deeper to help if the situation gets any worse?

To learn more about the clinics' situation:
- read this Associated Press piece

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