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The Fight for Health Care

Los Angeles Sentinel, News Report , Evan Barnes and Jason Lewis Posted: Aug 17, 2009

The debate for universal healthcare came to Exposition Park in the form of a town hall organized by Assemblymember Mike Davis. Unlike some around the country, the tone was civil as Davis featured an expert panel to provide insight on local healthcare issues.

Peggy Moore, the director of Organizing For America, was on hand to provide insight into President Obama's healthcare bill and laid out its three basic points--reduce costs, guarantee costs, and ensure quality care for all.

"We've been working 50 years for this," Moore said, "And it will happen this year."

Prior to Congress going on recess this month, four of the five committees have submitted their version of the bill. Congressmen and Senators have now taken their case to their constituents.

It's a conversation that has sparked heated dialogue as debates around the country have sometimes turned heated. As an alternative, Congresswoman Diane Watson is hosting a telephone town hall meeting tonight to answer questions from her district.

Most of the debate has centered around the "public option"--where patients could choose from a government insurance program instead of their private coverage.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who made a surprise appearance at Davis' town hall, asked that the attendees rally behind a "healthy, robust" public option that would give patients more affordable selections to choose from.

But while universal health care was the focus of the debate, the town hall also approached it from a different perspective.

Gerardo Pinedo, the director of government relations and policy for the L.A. County Dept. of Health Services, said that public hospitals, which serve 2.1 million residents, need to remain properly funded with the bill.

In addition to government reform, UCLA professor Dr. Bill Releford Jr. reminded those in attendance to pursue individual health care reform (eating better and exercising more) to avoid preventable diseases.

Releford has been among the leaders of educating African-Americans on health issues, having screened over 10 million men for diabetes with his Black Barbershop program.

Pinedo added that while universal healthcare is needed, money must also go towards ensuring public hospitals continue to receive adequate funding to provide services.

As the debate continues, more resources are becoming available to aid those in need. Remote Area Medical (RAM) has stepped in to do their part to help individuals with need.

RAM, a non-profit organization, brings together doctors and dentists along with medial supplies, to give people free medical care.

This week RAM is at The Forum in Inglewood. RAM opens their doors at 5:30am and will be in Inglewood until Tuesday, August 18. Services available are dental care, eye exams (free glasses are given out), immunizations, mammograms, cancer screenings, as well as many other medial services.

RAM has provided over $33 million worth of free health care to over 300,000 patients with the help of 36,000 volunteers. Initially created to help people in need who lived in third world countries, the need for this organization was so great that RAM began touring the United States.

Doctors and dentists will see as many as they can, but unfortunately, some people are turned away because of long lines. People should plan to get in line early well before 5:30 am.

It's a reminder that the debate over healthcare won't stop people from seeking treatment and for those uninsured residents of Los Angeles, it's a conversation they hope results in their favor when Congress returns to session next month.

Related Stories:

The Other Town Halls

Sen. Boxer: 'We Wont Walk Away From The Healthcare Debate'

Healthcare for All? It Depends on Your Visa

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