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I want you to meet an American heroine. There is not a human being alive doing more to ameliorate the pain and suffering of our collapsed healthcare system than Nicole Lamoureux, the executive director of the National Association of Free Health Clinics. I'm honored to call Nicole a friend.

Late in the afternoon of the second day of the clinic, there was a long line of patients without appointments. Nicole and her team were doing everything humanly possible to accommodate everyone, but the clinic was operating above capacity for all those with scheduled appointments.

I met a heartbroken Nicole while I was videotaping the people patiently waiting and hoping to get in.

"We've been here for two days and it's just not enough, we're doing the best we can and it's just not enough".

The New York Times needs to start to cover this catastrophe in a more enlightened way. Would you please take a moment to forward this diary or your own letter or comment about the Third World conditions within the continental United States, to the paper of record? The Times needs to be bombarded with emails.  It's not enough to have Bob Herbert write on the editorial page, this must be covered on Page One above the fold. Here's how to do it.

NEWS DEPARTMENT
To send comments and suggestions (about news coverage only) or to report errors that call for correction, e-mail nytnews@nytimes.com

[I think it's probably best to email the executive editor or the managing editor]

The Editors
executive-editor@nytimes.com
managing-editor@nytimes.com

It's hard to convey the heartbreak I witnessed at every bend in the road while I was at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, so I'll let the people I met tell you their stories. This morning the Los Angeles Times has yet another story of an out of work American struggling to make the exorbitant COBRA payments month-after-month.

Most of the people I met were working people, 83% of the people who come to these clinics are employed. But over and over and over, I heard about unaffordable junk insurance, unaffordable premiums, obscene co-pays, and during these very difficult economic times, the choice always comes down to food, clothing, heat or insurance and healthcare. I also repeatedly heard people say that when they had insurance, they still got stuck with the bills so what's the point of having insurance? Yes, we all know about that scam.

Then Nicole, who moments earlier, had been unable to control her emotions about the people she always refers to as "my patients", had to break the sad, sad news that the clinic simply could not accommodate anyone else.

Victoria Moss - laid off from Citibank. Doesn't want a handout. Needs a mammogram.

Good people like Rand Hodson, who is self-employed and uninsurable had to be turned away. Rand has had two heart attacks but no insurance, no medication and no doctor.

Nicole Abel (turn the sound up for this one). Type 1 diabetes, no job, no insurance, family held a fundraiser for her. Raised about $3000 for her healthcare needs.

"I'm constantly on the phone looking for help."

Don't be fooled.

Almost everyone at these clinics are hard working Americans, or certainly Americans who want to work and had been working until the corruption on Wall Street brought this country and the economy  to its knees.

Working Americans like Carol Dale, who just cannot afford the outrageous premium for herself and her daughter.  

And this should make all but the most affluent Americans tremble, because today it's them, tomorrow it could be one of us.

Gina Williams works for Hilton Hotels has three children, one has sickle cell anemia, this child has state insurance. But her other two children aren't covered. Her mother is a federal employee with unaffordable junk insurance.

"WE'RE DYING SLOWLY. . . WE'RE DYING SLOWLY."

Meet Diandria Pigese.

Even this vast 120,000 square foot convention center could not accommodate all those in need.

And I'll leave you with this. The Line.  At 5PM, about an hour or so before I found out that some without appointments would be turned away.

Originally posted to nyceve on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 06:24 AM PST.

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