Benton Franklin Access to Care in danger - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton Franklin Access to Care in danger

KENNEWICK, Wash. - The Benton Franklin Access to Care, an organization that helps 1,700 people in the Tri-Cities that do not have health insurance, is in danger of having to shut it's doors.

The federal government recently announced that the group will no longer receive grant money.  The government will put that money towards Katrina clean up and the war in Iraq.

50-year-old Bruce McAllister said the group has helped him tremendously.  Six months ago he lost his job and developed a serious heart condition that could have killed him.

McAllister was down on his luck and without health insurance and said it felt scary.

Through Access to Care he got the treatment he needed and will soon be working again.  He said he is concerned about the future of the agency.  

There are 210 organizations like Access to Care around the nation and they have all lost their federal grants.  

McAllister said,"It's robbing Peter to pay Paul.  The costs are going to be taken by somebody, somewhere, in some form eventually."

It is not just clients that are being affected, Access to Care workers are also being laid off.

Melinda Saenz has been working for the group since May and her last day is Friday.  She expressed sadness and said it will be tough, "especially during the holiday season.  It's going to be really trying."

Saenz said, "It's basically the people that don't have a voice to speak for themselves, that is who we're dealing with on a daily basis."

Benton Franklin Access to Care is asking hospitals for money and looking for local grants to try and keep their doors open.