October 14, 2009
Posted: 05:12 PM ET
Dr. Oz joins Larry tonight live at 9pm ET
By Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Two weeks ago, I partnered with the National Association of Free Clinics to hold what inadvertently became the largest one day free clinic in our nation’s history. I met some incredible people that day whom I will never forget and you need to meet four of them.
Analeigha Rivera, age 14 months, has a serious heart murmur and will need aggressive care. Anthony DeLane walked in with a severe diabetic foot ulcer and was rushed to the hospital in an attempt to save his foot. Gloria Molina lived with a heart monitor but she needed a newer cardiac pacemaker. Steven Cantrell had a very large cancerous tumor on his bottom lip that would require complicated surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
These people are the “uninsured” – but they aren’t a word, a category, a cliché or a burden. They are people. To me they are Analeigha, Anthony, Gloria and Steven.
We picked Houston for our free clinic because it has the highest rate of people living without insurance in the nation – 27% or about 1 in every 3 residents. The national average is a whopping 15%.
This week Congress will begin to debate an issue that tries our soul – how to provide care for the 47 million Americans living without health insurance. Opinions are plentiful – left, right, center – because this is an issue where everyone is a stakeholder in the outcome.
I have great faith in our nation that despite the diversity of opinion on how to accomplish providing care to the uninsured, we agree on the idea that no one should die or suffer because they lack insurance. However, I am biased as a physician, I have been looking into the eyes and hearts of sick people and their loved ones for close to 25 years. I have been telling them news of difficult diagnoses, harsh realities of the challenges they face, and I have had to deliver heartbreaking news to their loved ones. I have seen hundreds of people over the years who would have had better outcomes if only they had insurance or better access to care.
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