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Free health care from specialists available for low-income uninsured

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The health insurance sign-up left out many people. They fall in the gap, making too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to get subsidized coverage under the law. But those people in our area can still get medical care, even free care from specialists.

Joel Vazquez started coming to the Silver City Health Center after his colitis, a chronic colon disease, left him unemployed and uninsured. The safety net clinic provides him care at low-cost. But Vazquez's problems became too serious for the staff at the center to treat.

"I think the medicine I'm taking is not doing nothing for me, and doctor says you need to see the specialist," said Vazquez.

But how could a man with no insurance see a gastrointestinal specialist? Through a program called Wy/Jo Care that operates on the Kansas side of the metro. The Medical Society of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties has specialists who volunteer. Each agrees to see uninsured, low-income patients free of charge.

"They get to choose how many patients they're able to see," said Dr. McGreevy, president-elect of the medical society.

Dr. McGreevy says Wy/Jo Care has specialists in everything from asthma and allergies to wound care. If surgery is needed, it's free, too, with all the hospitals in the two counties taking part.

The doctor says even with the Affordable Care Act, the need will remain great since it doesn't appear Medicaid will be expanded in Kansas any time soon. There are still tens of thousands of uninsured.

"I would love it if access to health care were such we could put Wy/Jo Care out of business but right now, I don't see any change in the need," said Dr. McGreevy.

Most parents are referred to Wy/Jo Care through safety net clinics. Vazquez has had free colonoscopies and visits with the specialist.

"It's wonderful. I think it's a blessing for me," said Vazquez.

The specialist put Vazquez on a different medicine, and he says he's feeling much better.

A similar program on the Missouri side of the metro is called MetroCARE. Visit their website for more information.

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