By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- President Obama kicked off a health care summit in Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon, urging a group of doctors, drug-makers, insurers and patients to share ideas for fixing a system many feel is broken.
"We're here today to discuss not just one of the greatest threats not just to the well-being of our families, and the prosperity of our businesses, but to the very foundation of our economy," Obama said.
At the same time in Tulsa, as they do every week, doctors at Good Samaritan Health Services were treating patients who have no health insurance.
"Especially with the way the economy's going recently, there's a lot of suffering wherever you go," Dr. Matthew McClure said.
Since losing her health insurance last year, Virginia Alexander made what has become a regular trip to the free clinic. She has diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, COPD and high-blood pressure.
Alexander says without Good Samaritan, she would have nowhere else to turn. As one of an estimated 48 million uninsured Americans, she is all for Obama's call for universal coverage.
"I think his changes to the health care, we really need it," she said.
Good Samaritan workers aren't so sure. They worry universal care would only lead to more red tape.
"It actually would make it more difficult," Lynn Hersey said. "One of the reasons we get a lot of patients who come here is that they can't understand all the paperwork they have to do."
Still, Good Samaritan would like to see changes to the system. But like everyone who is gathered is Washington, the employees admit there will be no easy solutions to the problem.
They say no matter what changes are made, there needs to be room for free clinics. They are able to keep many patients out of the emergency room, and in turn avoid those huge bills that ruin many families.