The American Medical Association decided to not call for an outright ban on pharmacy-based health care right now and instead wants federal officials to investigate the wrong questions. From the Houston Chronicle:
The AMA wants state and federal agencies to look into whether pharmacy chain-owned clinics located in the stores urge patients to get their prescriptions filled on site, which the AMA maintains would pose a conflict. It also said that insurance companies should be banned from waiving or lowering co-payments only for patients who get treatment at store-based clinics.
And I'm happy to see one group immediately respond to the issue, not the smoke and mirrors:
"If the AMA pushes this agenda, its members may find out that legislators and constituents have been demanding accessible, affordable and high-quality health care for years and that's what retail clinics are delivering," Walgreen spokesman Michael Polzin said.
I find it curious that the American Academy of Family Physicians, whose members could be perceived as having more at stake with the unspoken cost here of losing patients and income to retail outlets, entered into an agreement with one chain last October to help assure the quality of care.
And on a very related note: [Health] Uninsured Americans numbered 43.6 million last year, a 6 percent increase from 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More from Bruce Japsen at the Chicago Tribune:
For those without health insurance, the retailers often charge less than $60. That is significantly less than the $100 or more a doctor would charge for an office visit, analysts and insurers say. Out-of-pocket costs for those with health insurance coverage have tended to be the same $20 co-pay at a retail clinic as at a doctor's office, retailers have said.
But doctors say the health insurers have recently created an "unfair playing field" by waiving patients' co-payments at retail health clinics. Doctors say that is designed to get patients to bypass a more comprehensive visit to the doctor's office.
Supporters of retail clinics say such complaints about insurance coverage show the AMA's interest in the issue is largely financial.
"It's going to affect their bank account, that is why they oppose retail clinics," said Edie Brous, a nurse and lawyer from New York who represents nurses on license issues. "The real reason physicians oppose retail clinics has nothing to do with patient safety or quality care. Rather, it is pure profit-driven, anti-competition greed."