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.”
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.