The Free Clinic Movement: America's Best-Kept Healthcare Secret

An Expert Interview With Nicole Lamoureux, Executive Director of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics

Lee D. Jacobs, MD; Nicole D. Lamoureux, MA


September 17, 2012

In This Article

Editor's Note:
When President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act[1] in March 2010, it initiated major changes in how healthcare would be provided. All of the players in healthcare provision will be involved, with changes reaching far beyond hospitals and insurance companies. It is estimated that 32 million uninsured people will have healthcare coverage.

However, this is only the beginning of the story; many questions remain unanswered. This interview with Nicole D. Lamoureux, MA, Executive Director of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC), offers insight into one of the most important questions: How will capacity be expanded to cover millions of patients? A significant answer to this question is the free clinic movement -- America's best-kept healthcare secret.

The purpose of this interview is to help readers understand and appreciate the value of free and charitable clinics in this era of dramatic change in how healthcare will be provided.

Dr. Jacobs: I want to thank you, Nicole, for taking the time to share on a subject that will be of growing interest to our readers over the upcoming years. First of all, could you tell us a little about yourself and your organization?

Ms. Lamoureux: I am the Executive Director of NAFC, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission focuses on the issues and needs of the more than 1200 free and charitable clinics and the people they serve in the United States.

I work daily with free and charitable clinics around the country, members of Congress, the media, and pharmaceutical companies, as well as volunteer, charitable, and faith-based organizations. Our mission is to provide research, education, and resources to promote, strengthen, and advocate for member organizations and the communities they serve.

I have been a guest on FOXNews, MSNBC, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show, discussing free and charitable clinics, the plight of the uninsured, and healthcare reform. I hold a Master's degree in American government and a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics from the Catholic University of America.

Before I joined the NAFC, I worked for 2 large trade organizations that represented the interests of the home building and the horse industries. Through these organizations, I received the Washington, DC, training that is critical to run a national organization. However, I knew deep in my heart that I was supposed to give back to this world in a tangible and impactful way. My current position at the NAFC is much more than a job; rather, it is my passion, my drive. In a small way, the work we do at the NAFC and in our member clinics is building a healthy America, 1 patient at a time.