Every month, a hundred or so people crowd the lobby of the Arlington Free Clinic, clutching blue tickets to enter a health-care lottery. Uninsured and ailing, they hope to be among the two dozen who hit the jackpot and are given free care.
Some might think the lottery's days are numbered, given that the insurance expansion under President Obama's health-care law is taking effect in January. But clinic officials say the lottery will stay because demand for their services is likely to be as high as ever. "We will be business as usual," said Nancy Sanger Pallesen, the clinic's executive director.
The Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping health care program created in a half century, is expected to extend coverage to 25 million Americans over the next decade, according to the most recent government estimates. But that will still leave a projected 31 million people without insurance by 2023. Those left out include undocumented workers and poor people living in the 21 states, such as Virginia, that have so far declined to expand Medicaid under the statute, commonly called Obamacare.