Retail Clinic Group Works To Address Doctors’ Concerns
The Convenient Care Association, the industry trade group that represents retail clinics, recently met to discuss a response to American Medical Association concerns that the clinics represent a conflict of interest, the Houston Chronicle reports (Harris, Houston Chronicle, 7/6).
AMA at its annual meeting in June adopted a resolution to ask state and federal agencies to launch investigations into whether retail health clinics place the health of patients at risk.
AMA also will seek an investigation into whether retail clinics encourage patients to fill their prescription on site, a practice that might involve a conflict of interest. In addition, AMA will seek a ban on a practice in which health insurers offer to waive or reduce copayments for members who seek care at retail clinics (California Healthline, 6/26).
A statement on the CCA Web site states that the group wants to work with AMA to address the concerns.
CCA Treasurer Web Golinkin, president and CEO of clinic chain RediClinic, said in-store clinics do not represent a conflict of interest because they have no connection to the pharmacies. He said that the pharmacies "have no financial interest in the clinics, and there is no financial incentive for them."
AMA Trustee Peter Carmel, chair of the New Jersey Medical School Department of Neurosurgery, said insurance companies are lowering premiums for members who use in-store clinics, and the same discounts should be offered to patients seeking care at private practices.
Carmel said, "In effect, the insurance companies are steering patients toward the clinics." Golinkin said he was not aware of this practice but noted that as health costs rise, insurers likely will encourage patients to seek the most cost-effective care.
Carmel said, "The AMA strongly believes in consumer-driven health care. It is likely that if we're going to lower health care costs, we're going to need entrepreneurial answers," but "[i]n finding new solutions, we can't lose sight of patient safety and quality" (Houston Chronicle, 7/6).