D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - After months of negotiations, the Senate Finance Committee has come up with its own version of health care reform legislation. The price tag is more than $800 billion.
It would require everyone to buy health insurance or pay a fine, and would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Instead of a government run option, the bill proposes a system of non-profit health cooperatives to compete with private insurers.
GOP leaders still oppose the bill. They say Americans don't want to add to the deficit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there will be a special caucus Thursday where lawmakers can discuss their concerns, and try to reach a consensus on the bill.
Volunteers who run a South Mississippi clinic say the government should shift its focus when it comes to health care reform.
Leaders at a free clinic in D'Iberville say they government needs to provide more immediate relief to clinics so that they can help more people.
"We struggle every month with donations. Our donations have dropped off and it's hard," said Clinic Director Beverly Squibb. "Monday we got $43 in donations and that's a long way to pay a $400 electric bill."
It's just one reason the director believes the federal government should take a different approach when it comes to health care reform.
"If they would just go and visit the free clinics and see the need out there. They are not seeing the whole picture. And if they would just see what needs to be done at this level," Squibb said.
Everyone is a volunteer at the four-year-old clinic. But with few resources for medication, a shortage of doctors and expiration on its lease space, leaders say the clinic is hurting.
"There are many months that me and my husband use our social security and disability to help pay the bills just to keep these doors open," Squibb said.
Ian Stoufflet is one of the patients who depends on the services of the free clinic.
"This is where I've been coming," Stoufflet said.
Like many other Americans, Stoufflet said he doesn't make enough money to pay the high costs of healthcare.
"I'm pretty much living on my own and supporting myself," Stoufflet said.
Stoufflet understands the healthcare dilemma and hopes that there will be government intervention to save small clinics like the one in D'Iberville. But if the government doesn't step in, he's hoping the community will.
"It's all about helping people who can't really help themselves and are in need of help from other people," Stoufflet said. "It would really help our community out."