Director of free clinic weighs in on health care bill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Director of free clinic weighs in on health care bill

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

The effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is moving forward in Washington after the House of Representatives passed a new health care bill on Thursday

The Bethesda Free Clinic in Ocean Springs offers health care to anyone who walks in the door, free of charge. The clinic's executive director took issue with the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama seven years ago because of the mandate for people to buy insurance. 

"To require somebody to pay for something that they may or may not be able to use the service is really unfortunate," said Mary Buffington.

The newly passed bill eliminates the penalty for not purchasing insurance. Congressman Steven Palazzo was one of the 217 Representative to vote for the bill. 

"The premiums are going to be lowered, competition is going to be injected into the market place," Palazzo said. "You're going to be able to shop for your insurance and get high quality, low cost health care."

As a result of the bill, estimates say 24 million fewer people could have insurance by 2026.  Buffington says a large number of the patients in her clinic have insurance, but still can't pay for the care. 

"Just because you have insurance doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting medical care," Buffington said. "You've got to be able to pay the premiums, the copay, the deductible. If you can't pay that, then insurance is just a piece of paper."

Buffington doesn't think more insurance or government involvement is the answer to providing health care for everyone. She believes more clinics like hers made possible by charity could go a long way to making a difference. 

"I think we're far more apt to help our neighbors than Washington is to help our neighbors," Buffington said. 

The bill still needs to pass the Senate before it can make it to the President's desk. The plan also calls for refundable tax credits based mainly on age to purchase health insurance instead of the Obamacare subsidies. 

For more information on the Bethesda Free Clinic: http://www.bfhcd.com/

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