NEW YORK — Beginning this month, South Carolina is allowing retail-based health clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid, a move that will enable Medicaid patients to use clinics for wellness visits, preventive services and to treat acute ailments, according to a local news report.
According to The Post and Courier, South Carolina Medicaid director Tony Keck said the move is designed to expand access to care and keep those patients with basic health issues from using high-cost emergency departments.
The state currently has 25 retail-based health clinics, all of them CVS Caremark-owned MinuteClinics.
Keck, who has stern words for those physicians who may oppose the state’s decision, told the newspaper that state officials began discussing retail clinics at his request earlier this year.
“You guys [physicians] close at 4:30,” Keck was quoted as saying in the article. “People work during the day. They need some place to go after hours instead of the [emergency room]. We need to make it available to them.”
According to the article, some within the medical community have expressed concern over whether the state's move would lead “to a fracturing of health care for South Carolina’s patients.”
Responding to those concerns, Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association, told the publication that clinics are “a resource, not a medical home.”
“We don’t want to be the only sources of heath care,” she was quoted as saying.
In a statement sent to the publication, Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, said the company plans to open new clinics in Fort Mill later this month and in Bluffton this fall. Further expansion could happen later this year and early next year, he said, as part of the company’s plan to add 100 clinics a year through 2015.
“As thousands of South Carolinians acquire insurance as a result of health care reform, we think MinuteClinic can play an increasing role in expanding access to high-quality, convenient and affordable care,” Sussman was quoted as saying in a prepared statement.
MinuteClinic already is considered “in network” for some South Carolina Medicaid patients who have managed care plans, the article stated, and Medicaid programs in several other states already cover care at retail-based health clinics.
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