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'Lincoln Art Exchange' To Allow NYC Artists To Barter Talents For Health Care

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A new program lets uninsured New York City artists exchange their art for medical services.

Tony-Award winning actor Lin-Manuel Miranda and rapper and radio personality Roxanne Shante helped launch the "Lincoln Art Exchange" at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx on Monday.

They were joined by hospital officials and arts organizations including the Actors' Fund and the Bronx Museum.

Director of Health Services of the Eastern Region for the Actors' Fund, Renata Marinaro, spoke with 1010 WINS on Monday and talked about the importance of the program.

"Actors, artists and entertainers generally fall in a low to middle income range. So they're often excluded from public programs for people who have lower incomes, but cannot afford the very expensive insurance policies in New York," Marinaro said.

Under the program, artists will earn "health credits" for every creative service they perform. In exchange they'll be able to obtain doctor's visits, laboratory tests, hospitalization, emergency care, dental care and prescriptions at Lincoln.

"Lincoln Art Exchange allows artists to barter their talent for care. So basically, they will get $40 in health care credits for every hour of work that they do. For example, an actor could read a passage from Romeo and Juliet for an hour on an in-patient unit and in return that person would get $40 in health care credits," Marinaro said.

Organizers said the program addresses the growing number of freelance and independent artists who can't afford health insurance.

"Most artists make roughly maybe $24,000 a year on average. They can't afford that kind of money and they need to get their health care and this is an excellent way for them to get that health care and contribute to the community," Marinaro said.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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