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Invited Commentary |

Free Clinics: A Personal Journey:  Comment on “Free Clinics in the United States”

Richard D. Gibbs, MD; Patricia H. Gibbs, MD
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(11):953-954. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.132.
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More than 46 million Americans have no health insurance, and the number is steadily growing. To meet the health care needs of the uninsured, a safety net has evolved of public health clinics, federally qualified health centers, emergency departments, and hospital outpatient clinics. In the article Free Clinics in the United States: A Nationwide Survey, the first comprehensive assessment of free clinics in 40 years, Darnell demonstrates that free clinics are an important but marginalized contributor to the safety net. With a national plan to expand health insurance passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, some may mistakenly think that free clinics will no longer be needed. However, it is clear that the health care expansion will not cover all of the uninsured and will take several years to put into practice. Free clinics will be there to catch those who fall through these gaps.

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