At Oakland Coliseum, People Stand All Night In The Cold To Get Free Medical Care

Remote Area Medical is shown at a free clinic in Kentucky back in 2008.

It's really strange, being trapped in this American nightmare without end. People who once had happy, productive lives are standing in the cold all night to see a desperately-needed free dentist, the Republican House majority leader thinks sick old people should learn to weave straw into gold, and the Democratic president is patting himself on the back for how politically clever he is to broker the deep, painful cuts to be inflicted on services to the needy. Not only that, he plans to announce more of them this week!

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By the time the free health clinic at the Oakland Coliseum opened Saturday at dawn, some 800 tickets had been handed out to people who waited in the cold all night for the chance to have a tooth extracted, get new glasses or to finally get prescription medications for arthritis or other painful conditions.

Geneva Clay, 51, of San Leandro worked as a project manager and had health benefits before she was laid off in 2009. She had been waiting in line since 11 p.m. Friday and was number 282.

"We are the middle class. We are in need of health care because of the lack of jobs," she said, trying to keep warm until her number was called. "In this country, we shouldn't have to fight for medical coverage, we shouldn't have to fight to see a doctor. We can send money all over the world, but we can't take care of our own."

Clay was one of about 1,000 people expected to be seen on the first day of the huge, four-day health clinic organized by Remote Area Medical. RAM, a volunteer medical corps based in Tennessee, has been providing health clinics in underserved areas around the world since 1985 and has been offering them in this country since the mid-'90s.

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