Retail Clinics Expand Nationwide Despite Some States’ Concerns
Retail clinics are gaining popularity and expanding across the nation, while regulators in some states are addressing potential conflicts of interest and safety concerns, the New York Times reports.
New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and California all are discussing policies for regulating retail clinics.
In New York state, regulators are examining the connection between the clinics and their pharmacies to see if the clinics are "being used improperly to increase business or steer patients" to the pharmacies, according to the Times.
In addition, they are looking into whether state laws are being violated because pharmacies are licensed only to provide drugs, not medical care. Massachusetts has issued guidelines for "limited-service clinics" and has two public hearings on the matter scheduled for September.
MinuteClinic CEO Michael Howe said, "We are transparent with regulators," and company officials also have said that the relationship between the clinics and pharmacies is proper.
Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said, "We've got big problems in health care, and this is not the answer." He added, "They are a response, they are a niche market and an economic opportunity, but we still have an underlying primary care crisis in this country" (Kershaw, New York Times, 8/23).