Retail Clinics harassed by AMA

This is absurd:

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The American Medical Association said on Monday it will ask state and federal authorities to investigate retail health clinics such as those offered in CVS/Caremark stores, Wal-Mart Stores and Walgreen Co. for possible conflicts of interest.

They state that the retail stores are driving customers to their own pharmacies and waiving co-pays. All of that may be true. But finances are not the main issue, access to affordable health are is. But the primary issue is ACCESS!

I can’t tell you how many patients we see on a daily basis in the ER, with non-emergent conditions, who were unable to get a timely appointment with their PCP. The retail based clinics are able to see urgent cases offloading the lighter stuff from the ERs and free-ing up space and staff time for us to take care of the sicker, truley emergent patient conditions.

If you are waiting in the ER waiting room for 3 hours with abdominal or chest pain, I don’t think you’ll be thanking the AMA for making it harder for retail clinics to operate.

Another quote:

Doctors said the clinics do not offer comprehensive care and they disrupt the standard physician-patient relationship.

“Our concerns are very simple: safety and patient care,” said Dr. Rodney Osborn, president of the Illinois State Medical Society, who practices in Peoria, Illinois.

That’s exactly my concern as well. The clinics are being used so clearly the PCPs do not have enough times or space in their own schedule to see patients.

It’s not the fault of the PCPs in fact, they are frequently in the same boat as the ERs…but that does not stop many of them from advising their patients over the phone (or having the secretary advise them) “Go to the ER…”

Store based urgent care clinics may have a conflict of financial interested, but that should be easily solved by not allow them to waive co-pays, etc.

What the US needs is MORE access to primary care, not less. The AMA isn’t doing one any favors with this line of attack.