SACRAMENTO: Extraordinary Effort Reopens Shuttered Clinic
"Without government funding or fanfare," the supporters of Dr. Jerome Lackner -- a former state health director and operator of a unique, but now closed, clinic that specialized in treating alcohol and substance abuse patients -- "have launched a medical clinic believed to be one of the few of its kind in the nation." The Sacramento Bee reports that "Lackner shuttered his [Sacramento] practice last year, citing the evils of managed care." He "said he was in debt from funding patient care out of his own pocket" and said he "had to quit or go broke because his insurance reimbursements were inadequate to pay his bills." One patient said of the clinic's closing: "[I]t was like Calcutta losing Mother Teresa." Tom Miller, a former patient who was treated by Lackner for 17 years for alcoholism and one of the organizers of the new clinic, asked, "How could we let the world's best doctor go out of business because he was not able to make enough money to pay his bills?" He added that Lackner "was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year." In a letter to patients announcing the closing of his clinic, Lackner said, "I have been forced out by managed care. The current system makes no provision for the type of care I give."
Off To A New Start
Patients, friends and colleagues of Lackner put together "an extraordinary grass-roots effort" to raise money to reopen Lackner's clinic, "which will be renamed the William D. Silkworth Memorial Medical Clinic after the first physician to diagnose alcoholism as a disease." According to its organizers, "the clinic will operate on an old-fashioned, fee-for-service basis, shunning the managed care approach." About 70% of the "clinic's income is expected to come from direct payment of fees, and the rest from grants, donations and fund-raisers." Fees "will be structured on a sliding-scale basis for patients who lack financial resources." Lackner said of the new clinic, "It seemed like a creative, spontaneous alternative for the treatment of one of America's most devastating chronic diseases" (Hubert, 4/2).