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University of Iowa News Release

 

April 20, 2007

'Cover The Uninsured Week' Is April 23-29

Jim Mulac of Cedar Rapids is a self-employed music teacher who gives lessons at his home, which for the past 18 years also has enabled him to care for his wife, who has multiple sclerosis. Her medical care is covered under Medicaid, as was medical care for the Mulacs' son before he became an adult.

Mulac himself has had no health insurance for years. With his modest income, he simply cannot afford it.

Mulac will turn 65 later this year, which will make him eligible for Medicare coverage. In the meantime, and for others like Mulac who lack health insurance, "You try to stay as healthy as you can and cross your fingers," he said. As for visits to the doctor, "You pay out of pocket or, most likely, you just don't go," he added.

Mulac is active in issues related to uninsured and underinsured Iowans, serving on the state's Medical Assistance Advisory Council. He also is a member of Iowa for Health Care, a project of Service Employees International Union advocating quality, affordable health care for all.

His family's story is one example of the challenges many Americans face in receiving adequate health care for themselves, their spouses and their children. Out of Iowa's population of nearly three million residents, more than 250,000 people - including 50,000 children - do not have health insurance. Nationwide, nearly 45 million Americans, or 15.3 percent of the population, did not have health insurance in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

During national "Cover the Uninsured Week" (http://covertheuninsured.org/), April 23-29, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will provide free information for staff and the public regarding the nation's uninsured/underinsured. Information tables will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, April 23, in the Fountain Dining Room near hospital elevator "C" and the Marketplace cafeteria, located just off the main lobby of UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Other UI-related events during "Cover the Uninsured Week" include:

-- A health clinic for uninsured schoolchildren and their siblings, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 26, at Horace Mann Elementary, located at 521 N. Dodge St. in Iowa City. UI medical, nursing and dental faculty, residents and staff, and Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) personnel, will offer the clinic, which is part of "Healthy Kids Community Care," a pilot project of the ICCSD in partnership with the UI, Mercy Iowa City, United Way of Johnson County, Johnson County Public Health and other community-based organizations.

-- Vision screenings for children from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, April 27, at St. Thomas More Church, located at 405 N. Riverside Drive in Iowa City. The screenings are provided by "Coming To Your Senses," a joint vision-screening project of the UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Lions Clubs of Iowa. The event is free and open to the public.

-- "Coming to Your Senses" free vision screenings for children from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 28, at the Iowa Children's Museum at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville. UI medical students also will be available to provide informational materials on hawk-i, which provides health care coverage for Iowa children from families with limited incomes. The student-led public awareness effort is supported by a grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Both the vision screenings and informational materials are free and open to the public.

UI Hospitals and Clinics will continue to serve Iowans without health insurance as well as those with government-sponsored health coverage for low-income beneficiaries such as Medicaid, IowaCare, and hawk-i.

UI health sciences colleges, centers and programs also promote learning and understanding of issues related to the uninsured/underinsured in addition to providing health services to families who lack access to care. Some examples include:

-- The Mobile Clinic, an interdisciplinary project started by Carver College of Medicine and other UI health sciences students, who work together to serve underserved populations in Iowa City and surrounding communities. With the use of a redesigned transit bus, Mobile Clinic student-volunteers and supervising faculty advisors offer health screenings and other services to the low-income families, the homeless, migrant workers and culturally diverse groups.

-- The UI College of Dentistry offers numerous programs that offer dental care to children from low-income families; children and adults with special health care needs; older adults living in Eastern Iowa nursing homes; and uninsured and underserved patients in Davenport, Des Moines, Muscatine, Sioux City and other Iowa communities; and other communities.

-- UI nursing students provide health assessments for uninsured individuals at neighborhood centers as part of the college's public health practicum; perform outreach to uninsured families at free clinics in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City; and work with school nurses at Iowa City schools who serve children from all economic and cultural backgrounds.

-- UI pharmacy students organize and implement "Operation Immunization," a campaign promoting education and implementing immunization services at area pharmacies. In 2006, the students helped administer more than 3,000 flu shots and other immunizations in Eastern Iowa.

-- The UI Health Sciences Policy Council and the UI College of Public Health have led planning for "Rebalancing Health Care in the Heartland," a series of forums focused on health care reform in Iowa and the United States. In November 2006, the first forum in Iowa City focused on publicly financed health care programs in Iowa. The second forum, to be held June 19 in Des Moines, will focus on innovative state-based health care reforms proposals taking shape across the country. The final forum, planned as a two-part event in Iowa City and Des Moines, will consider national health care priorities.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Please note that "hawk-i" is written in lowercase letters. Additional examples of UI health sciences colleges' activities are available; contact David Pedersen at 319-335-8032 for more information.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu.