SAN DIEGO: Medical Aid Project Faces Closure
Reach Out, a project that "arranges deeply discounted medical services for people who can't afford health insurance and don't qualify for government programs," may have to shut down for financial reasons. Reach Out "recruits physicians who are willing to provide medical services for some low-income, uninsured people at half or less of their usual fees." It has served approximately 5,000 people over the last three years. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the project's three-year start-up grant is "gone," and no other "foundations or local corporations" have expressed willingness "to pick up the ball." Barrie Owens, director of Reach Out, said, "Unless some guardian angel comes through in the next couple of weeks, we close the doors. At this point, it looks highly unlikely." Dr. Robert Ross, director of health and human services for San Diego County, said Reach Out "has been valuable for some people who otherwise fall through the wide cracks in health care services." Ross said that if it were not for the program, there would "be no medical care available for some adults with incomes just above the County Medical Services cut-off of $600 a month." He said he would see if "any county money might be available" to keep Reach Out running. The Union- Tribune reports that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded a grant three years ago to start the project, but intended for local foundations to intervene in the future. However, Owens said that most potential funders "prefer to fund well-known charities or provide start-up funding for new projects rather than maintain existing ones." Owens added, "It is frustrating because we hear people moan and groan about access to care. We're not a total solution, but we're a big chunk of a solution" (Duerksen, 9/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.