Free health care clinics in Knoxville unsure about Obamacare

Free health care clinics in Knoxville unsure what Obamacare will do

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Dr. Tom Kim, the medical director and founder of Free Clinic of America, says he is not afraid of his clinic not being needed. Dr. Tom Kim, the medical director and founder of Free Clinic of America, says he is not afraid of his clinic not being needed.
At the Interfaith Health Clinic, executive director Melissa Knight says there will be plenty of people for them to serve. At the Interfaith Health Clinic, executive director Melissa Knight says there will be plenty of people for them to serve.
"There is a misconception that everybody is going to have health insurance tomorrow or January 1 and that's not true," said Melissa Knight. "There is a misconception that everybody is going to have health insurance tomorrow or January 1 and that's not true," said Melissa Knight.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - People are still scratching their heads on exactly how Obamacare will work.     

Officials at several health care clinics locally who serve the uninsured are still figuring out what will happen to them once everyone is required to get health insurance.

Both the Interfaith Health Clinic and the Free Medical Clinic of America in Knoxville serve those without health insurance.     

The directors at each say they are still trying to figure out how the new health care reform will work, but have no plans of shutting their doors anytime soon.

India Dailey, a patient at the Free Medical Clinic of America, relies on the services this clinic provides. She is unsure what the new healthcare reform means for her and her family.

When asked what she plans to do, Dailey said, "I don't know."    

Dr. Tom Kim, the medical director and founder of this clinic, says many of his patients are having similar questions. He says he is not afraid of his clinic not being needed.

"There is some gap," said Dr. Kim. "It is going to be there, I know."

Dr. Kim says that gap will come from a lack of physicians.

"Even if you have an increased number of people with insurance, there's not many primary care physicians who will provide that, to see that," he said.

At the Interfaith Health Clinic, executive director Melissa Knight says there will be plenty of people for them to serve.

"There is a misconception that everybody is going to have health insurance tomorrow or January 1 and that's not true," said Knight. "There's still at least 400,000 in the state of Tennessee that will not qualify to get the subsidies to they can obtain ACA."  

The directors at both clinics say they are still trying to figure out exactly how everything will work.

"I will not sweep away anything," said Dr. Kim, "Even if there is one patient who needs it. I'm standing firm."

"What I can tell you is we are going to keep on taking care of the uninsured," said Knight. "Does it mean we have to change a little bit, impact how we minister, or take care of our patients in the future, it might be. Whether that's six months from now, or six years from now."

Knight says another challenge her clinic is facing is a decrease in donations.

She says many people are thinking that since everyone is supposed to get health insurance, donations are not needed.  

"A lot of individuals, foundations, and corporations think everyone will have health insurance," said Knight. "They don't need to give to Interfaith Health Clinic, or organizations like Interfaith."

Their donations have dropped 20 to 30 percent.   

Dr. Kim says he has not had any problems with donations at his clinic.     

The Interfaith Health Clinic is currently training several of the employees on the new healthcare reform to inform their patients.          

They are planning on hold several public meetings about the healthcare reform in mid-October.

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