February so far has brought a touching outpouring of support for the work our dedicated staff does in the clinic. One of our best and most modest nurse volunteers (thus name withheld) surprised us with a gift of money she collected from her friends and neighbors. She and a few friends organized a neighborhood clothing swap. Participants traded their jackets, sweaters, pants and skirts that they no longer wanted to wear for their neighbors’ cache of gently used clothing. Then, instead of paying one another for the clothes, they took out their check books, dug out their cash and made Health Care Access Clinic the beneficiary of their weekend swap meet. Our volunteer undoubtedly added the extra cash to make it an even $1,000.
When we are presented with a gift like this, we are humbled by the creativity and effort that our supporters employ to find new ways to help our patients. The $1,000 we received will pay for the care of three patients all year long, PLUS, purchase seven lab test cartridges for our new in-house laboratory. We can turn every dollar into $5.44 worth of medical care thanks to the generosity of our community volunteers, LMH donations and plain, old-fashioned frugalness.
As special as that was, we were all moved when a girl came to the clinic with another envelope filled with cash and checks. This extraordinary girl decided she wanted to forgo birthday presents and instead dedicate her birthday celebration to helping those who are uninsured and need medical care. She asked her guests to bring small cash donations instead of presents for herself and then presented the donations to us. The amount was smaller than our first surprise, but the act was huge. It reminded me of a favorite quote from Colin Powell: “Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up.” This exceptional birthday girl understands that better than most. How many of us can say we have done as much?
If you feel moved to make a donation to the Clinic, large or small, or if you have medical items or office supplies you’d like to donate, give in to that feeling and do it! Better yet, if you can find a creative way to engage your friends, co-workers or neighbors in a joint effort to generate a gift to the clinic, we will happily celebrate your generosity and creativity! Names optional.
Affordable Care Act
Like other businesses, whether for-profit or non-profit, we have to have money to keep our doors open. When having conversations about funding, I am often asked if Health Care Access Clinic is still needed now that the Affordable Care Act is in place. The answer is a resounding yes. The ACA or ObamaCare” as it’s called provides financial help for moderate income people to buy insurance on the Marketplace. The original law also required states to expand Medicaid for low income adults, but in its present form in Kansas, it does nothing for low income adults who need insurance. The ACA originally required all states to expand their Medicaid program to cover adults living at 138% of the federal poverty level and below ($15,865 for a single person, $30,660 for a family of four). The Supreme Court struck down that provision and told states they didn’t have to expand if they didn’t want to. The federal government offered incentives to states to expand by paying 100% of the cost for the first three years, with a total state share rising to 10% by 2020. Our state has not expanded Medicaid. So, for everyone living below the Marketplace cut off, access to insurance is still far out of reach.
That’s where Health Care Access Clinic comes in. We see the people who desperately need care who are too poor to buy insurance on the Marketplace because they don’t qualify for a subsidy and yet also don’t qualify for Medicaid. In Kansas we call Medicaid “KanCare” and the eligibility requirements are nearly the most restrictive in the nation. The result is there are an estimated 315,000 Kansans age 19-64 with incomes under the new eligibility threshold. Of those, 127,000 are uninsured and at least 9,000 live in Douglas County. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).
At the end of the week, we will be mailing a letter to past supporters asking for a financial contribution to help us continue to provide life-saving access to care in our clinic. We do not receive any financial support from the federal government and only $220,000 from the state, about a fifth of our cash budget. We receive critical support from Douglas County and the United Way as well, but the bulk of the money that lets us treat the sick and struggling people who live in our communities comes from you. This is a critical time for us, as we strive to rise to the challenge of treating patient with complex medical conditions with nowhere else to go. To donate today, click on our “donate” link and give online. If your civic or church organization can help with a fundraising event, give me a call at 785-841-5760 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to have you as a partner in saving the lives of the most vulnerable citizens of Douglas County.
– Shelly Wakeman