Local group filling gap created by Medicaid, Obamacare - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Local group filling gap created by Medicaid, Obamacare

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Volunteers in Medicine provides free medical care to those with chronic illness as well as those constantly on medications. (FOX5) Volunteers in Medicine provides free medical care to those with chronic illness as well as those constantly on medications. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The Affordable Care Act has been in effect for nearly a month, but there are still plenty of people who can't afford to pay for health insurance.

A local medical group is working to help those who can't pay costly premiums by providing free medical help.

Volunteers in Medicine offers free medical care to people with chronic conditions or who are constantly on medication.

Obamacare allows more people to qualify for Medicaid in Nevada. However, there are those people who don't qualify but still don't make enough money to pay for a health insurance policy.

Like many, Alfred Gardea fell victim to the recession.

"I was a cab driver two years ago and basically was let go and my diabetes acted up. I lost my insurance," he said.

At 60, Gardea knows how important insurance is. Until he found Volunteers in Medicine, he was scared he wouldn't make it.

"This has basically saved my life because I was really having some serious problems with my diabetes," he said.

While Gardea will likely qualify for Medicaid with the recent expansion of Obamacare, Volunteers in Medicine co-founder Gard Jameson said many of the organization's patients will not.

"There is a common assumption that Obamacare will basically handle everybody, and that's a misassumption," Jameson said.

Individuals who make less than $16,000 per year will qualify for Medicaid. For families, it's less than $29,000 per year.

"[Beginning on] Jan. 1, the non-disabled, non-elderly adults without dependent children are going to be for the first time eligible under the Medicaid expansion," said Mike Willden, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

In Nevada, nearly a quarter of the population is without health insurance. About 260,000 people now qualify for Medicaid.

Volunteers in Medicine opened three years ago. They help approximately 6,000 people annually.

The group is set to open a new clinic in 2014 with the aim of helping between 20,000 and 30,000 people each year.

Roughly 320,000 people are currently on Medicaid. That number could jump to more than 500,000 in the coming months.

Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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