A non-profit group that provides free medical treatment to those in need is running into fees and regulations that could derail its plans to treat thousands at a temporary clinic in Washington, D.C. next month.
The Washington Convention And Sports Authority, a quasi-public group overseen by a board mostly appointed by D.C.'s mayor, wants to charge the non-profit group Remote Area Medical $77,000 to use the D.C. Armory for three days in January 2010. RAM, which typically treats thousands of uninsured and under-insured patients at temporary free clinics nationwide, says it cannot afford to pay that large a fee for the space. The Washington Post reports:
Founder Stan Brock said RAM has never been asked by other site operators to pay anything approaching that fee. The cost is "prohibitively high" and still climbing, Brock said in a telephone interview this week from Knoxville, Tenn., where RAM is headquartered. "We just don't know what the bottom line is going to be. There are things that just keep coming up."
But costs aren't the only obstacle that could keep RAM out of D.C. City health officials, who say they're concerned with patients' "continuing care" after the clinic, may require RAM to submit a Certificate Of Need, detailing why there's a need for RAM's services. A review of the certificate could take up to 90 days.
RAM's plan to host the clinic next month might be viewed as a political move by some. Thousands would presumably turnout for care and the image of Americans lined up for treatment in the nation's capital could be a potent one used by lawmakers at what stands to be the height of the health care debate.
While Washington, D.C.'s rate of insured residents places the district among the top-five states with the most insured residents (90.2 percent had some form of health insurance in 2008), the greater metropolitan area surrounding D.C. includes counties where nearly 1 in 5 are uninsured.
Victor Keane, the chief executive for a non-profit group that runs clinics for Washington, D.C. told the Washington Post that a temporary clinic creates "a hoopla event...that doesn't solve more systematic problems."
This year RAM has hosted events in Tennessee, Kentucky, Utah, Virginia, and Los Angeles. NBC Nightly News reported on the massive turnout at RAM's temporary clinic in Los Angeles this past August.