Ensure health care access for everyone

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Over the past year, Iowans and people across the country have seen great upheaval in health care access. Privatization of Medicaid, increasing insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the threat to repeal the ACA have left millions of people concerned about their ability to obtain needed and affordable health care.

The Iowa City Free Medical and Dental Clinic (FMC) has served uninsured and underinsured individuals in Johnson County and surrounding areas for over 45 years. The clinic has evolved over time, providing more care to patients with chronic health conditions (especially diabetes and hypertension) as well as more preventive services, including programs for wellness, smoking cessation and diabetes prevention.

Although many FMC patients were able to obtain coverage through the ACA, the demand for our services has not noticeably decreased. Today, we are providing care for patients with more complex medical, social, cultural and educational issues. Today, we are as busy as we were before the ACA was enacted.

I have worked with the clinic for 10 years and am continually impressed with the dedication and capabilities of the staff to provide quality, compassionate health care with limited resources. Our clinic is very fortunate in that our community support has been strong, including thousands of donated hours from over 200 skilled volunteers.

As the health care environment continues to change, our staff and volunteers will continue to provide services. But if the ACA is repealed without a viable replacement option in place, we anticipate a significant increase in the number of patients in need of medical and dental care. Repeal of the ACA will affect all citizens, but will affect the more vulnerable, including those in need of FMC services, to a greater extent.

To protect the health care of Iowans, and those across the US, I encourage you to contact your Senators and Representatives to oppose repeal of ACA before a replacement is available. Contact information is available at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/IA

We look forward to the day that our free clinic is unnecessary, to the day when affordable health care is available to everyone.

• Dr. Cecilia Redmond-Norris, is medical director of the Iowa City Free Medical and Dental Clinic

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