BURLINGTON It is estimated that nearly 16 percent of Americans, including 70,000 Vermonters, dont have health insurance. To help highlight this fact, the Vermont Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured (VCCU) is helping mark the fifth annual National Cover the Uninsured Week, April 23-29. When people who are sick go without care, the consequences can be serious, said Wilda Pelton, VCCU Board Chair. We see many working Vermonters who are caught in a healthcare bind because their employers do not provide healthcare coverage and their income is just slightly too high to be eligible for state insurance programs. In 2006, the nine VCCU programs served almost 4,500 patients, double the number of patients seen in 2000. Having these services available for those who need them is crucial, said Jennifer Daley, coordinator of the Health Assistance Program at Fletcher Allen Health Care, one of the nine VCCU programs. Its very important that people receive the health care and medications they need, regardless of their income. Health care is a right, not a privilege. We're delighted that thousands more Vermonters will finally be eligible to have insurance, through the Catamount Health Plan said Pelton. Our clinics work aggressively to enroll and keep Vermonters in programs that will provide them ongoing health care. Were also working to actively enroll patients in Catamount. Open enrollment for Catamount will begin Oct. 1, 2007. The VCCU clinics receive an annual grant from the Vermont Department of Health with funds appropriated by the State of Vermont. Patient health and medical services are primarily obtained through donations from area hospitals and private health care practitioners. For information about VCCU and health care for the uninsured, please visit: http://www.vccu.net.