Thousands line up for free LA health care clinic

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Friday was the first day of a massive free health care clinic in downtown Los Angeles. (KABC)

Friday was the first day of a massive free health care clinic in downtown Los Angeles.

At the event, the consensus was: Obamacare appears to be working.

On President Donald Trump's first day of office, the fate of the Affordable Care Act came sharply into focus.

Despite the pouring rain, Santa Monica resident Warren Assmann made it down to The Reef in downtown LA to get some much needed dental work.

"Basically it's back near my molar tooth in the back and it's been bothering me for probably a little over three years," said Assmann.

Lucy Ponce-Chaidez of Fontana hadn't seen a doctor in a long time.

"I wanted to get checked and I can do everything in one day," said Ponce-Chaidez.

Thousands lined up earlier this week to get one of the 3,000 spots at Care Harbor's 7th annual free healthcare clinic. All types of care were offered for free in one place.

"We do pap smear, HPV testing. We can also check for other gynecologic problems," said Dr. Nancy Baisch, physician from the Department of OB/GYN at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park.

Baisch was one of 2,000 medical and support volunteers.

In years past, this event attracted nearly 10,000 people, but the availability of affordable health insurance seemed to be chipping away at the need.

"We used to have a lot more patients coming through before the Affordable Care Act. Once the Affordable Care Act came into being, our patient volume dropped," said Baisch.

Still, services like dental and vision remain out of reach since many insurance plans don't provide adequate coverage.

"The biggest unmet need in California I've seen over the years is dental care. If you don't have dental insurance, it's very expensive," said Dr. Patrick Dowling, professor and chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at UCLA School of Medicine.

As Obamacare teeters on the brink of repeal, UCLA's Dowling worries about the progress that's been made.

"It's going to be very difficult to take it away without replacing it with something," said Dowling.

"I don't see why they would want to do such major changes on something that seems to be working." said Assmann.

But the hope is the care doesn't end here. Volunteers are on hand until Jan. 22 to help people sign up for Covered California before the Jan. 31 deadline.
Related Topics:
healthhealthy livinghealth careObamacareaffordable care actLos Angeles
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