SUDBURY – Sudbury’s legislative delegation, State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), and State Representative Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury) presented a ceremonial $75,000 check to the MetroWest Free Medical Program yesterday to celebrate the funding they secured for the program in the FY18 state budget during a tour of the program’s facilities in Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley. The funding was vetoed by Governor Charlie Baker (R) last year, but the Massachusetts Legislature overrode the veto in October of 2017, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services released the funding in late February, 2018.
“Improving access to health care services is important to ensuring that low-income individuals and families are able to receive critical treatment,” Senator Eldridge said. “These funds will allow the program to purchase new medical equipment, supplies, and medication needed to maintain its health services. I am also grateful to Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka for pushing the Baker-Polito administration to finally release critical earmarks such as this funding for the Metrowest Free Medical Program.”
The MetroWest Free Medical Program is a non-profit organization that engages volunteer health care providers to offer free health care services to medically underserved communities. Through the dedication of volunteer doctors, nurses, social workers, health educators, and more than 250 total volunteers, the MWFMP provides underinsured individuals with general medical and specialty care. The MWFMP serves 1,500 patients per year.
“I am proud that the MetroWest Free Medical Program has made their home in Sudbury and for the part I and my fellow legislators have played in supporting its growth”, Representative Gentile said. “The work of organizations like this one are crucial to closing the gaps in our social safety net and insuring the needs of our entire community are met.”
Kim Prendergast, the program’s Executive Director, says the need for their services has increased dramatically in 2017.
“Demand is up about 65% compared to 2016,” Prendergast said. “There were cuts to the Mass Health program that left people ineligible for health insurance, and there aren’t many doctors in this area that will take Mass Health. That leaves organizations like ours as the only option for people when they are sick, when they need a work physical for a new job, or when they need a refill for their medicine for high blood pressure.”
“The wonders of Health Care For All notwithstanding, people in Massachusetts continue to fall through the cracks, “Senator Barrett said. Just in the last two weeks, I’ve personally witnessed people standing at pharmacy windows unable to come up with their required copays. Every safety net has holes, and this program helps to plug them in MetroWest.”