These people are Trump voters making $7.25 an hour, sleeping in cars overnight in order to receive free healthcare services in Virginia July 22 2017. How in the hell can they afford #Trumpcare? They camped overnight for free healthcare at a medical center that treated thousands over the weekend inside barns & animal stalls.
WISE, Va. — The sick and the disabled pour out of these mountains every summer for their one shot at free health care, but this year was supposed to hold hope for a better solution.
President Donald Trump won the White House in part on a promise to fix the nation’s costly and inefficient health-care system. Instead, Republicans in Congress are paralyzed and threatening to dismantle the imperfect framework of Obamacare.
No relief is in sight for someone like Larry McKnight, who sat in a horse stall at the Wise County Fairgrounds having his shoulder examined. He was among more than a thousand ailing people attending the area’s 18th annual Remote Area Medical clinic, where physicians and dentists dispense free care to those who otherwise have none.
“I really think that they don’t have any clue what’s going on,” McKnight said, referring to political leaders in Washington. “You watch the news and it’s two sides pitted against each other, which in turn just makes them pitted against us, the normal person.”
People camped overnight for free healthcare at a medical center that treated thousands over the weekend inside barns & animal stalls
Hundreds waited overnight in a parking lot for the gates to open at 5 a.m. in hopes of getting free medical or dental treatment. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Michael S. Williamson for The Washington Post.
Josh Phillips waited all night, with hundreds of others, to get a chance to have dental work done. He rested in a wheelchair as he waited to be sent to a check-in area. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Michael S. Williamson for The Washington Post.
Tabitha Lindley and her mom, Tammy Lindley, check for messages in the pre-dawn hours after sleeping in their car. In the foreground is Dalton Barton, Tabitha’s fiancee. They hoped to get dental work done. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Michael S. Williamson for The Washington Post.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gives a hug to Patricia McConnell, who saved money for six months for gas and a hotel room, to attend the Remote Area Medical event. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Michael S. Williamson for The Washington Post.
Wise, Virginia A woman looks at herself in a mirror as she tries on glasses at the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Virginia, U.S., July 22, 2017. JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS
se, Virginia Surgeon Ken Olshansky (l.), prepares to remove a cyst from the neck of a patient at a free health clinic on July 22, 2017 in Wise, Virginia. JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
Wise, Virginia People wait to enter the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Virginia, U.S. on July 22, 2017. JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS
Wise, Virginia Kendra Farmer (C) holds Paisley, 11 months, as she waits with Logan Farmer to enter the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Virginia on July 22, 2017.
Wise, Virginia People wait to receive medical and dental care at the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Virginia on July 21, 2017. JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS
Wise, Virginia A volunteer walks past people receiving dental care at the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Virginia, U.S., July 22, 2017. Hundreds of Appalachia residents waited through the night for the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM), clinic for dental, vision and medical services held at the Wise County Fairgrounds in western Virginia.
Wise, Virginia People sleep overnight in their cars to recieve healthcare services at a free clinic on July 22, 2017 in Wise, Virginia. JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
About 1,100 such people descended on the fairgrounds Friday, with more expected Saturday and Sunday. Medical personnel from across the state were there with makeshift examination rooms in tents and sheds. Sheets hung from clothespins for privacy; giant fans pulled hot air through buildings intended for livestock shows.
These events are staged nationwide, but the Wise clinic is among the biggest, drawing people from all over Appalachia and casting Washington’s sterile political debates into the starkest human terms.
A third of the patients who registered Friday were unemployed. Those who couldn’t afford a room slept in their cars or camped in the fields around the fairgrounds. They lined up in the dead of night to get a spot inside the event.
It is the place of last resort for people who can’t afford insurance even under Obamacare, or who don’t qualify for Medicaid in a state where the legislature has resisted expansion.