Despite Health Reform Efforts, Milwaukee Clinic For Low-Income Patients May Close

A clinic in a low-income Milwaukee neighborhood has filled a need for 23 years, but people running it worry that it may not be helped by any changes to the health care system. The New York Times reports on the Milwaukee Immediate Care Center, a small nonprofit clinic, "which keeps hours at night and on weekends, [and] is the only full-time operation in the neighborhood that provides urgent care, luring patients with a sign that reads, 'When You Need a Doctor Today.'"

"The clinic has teetered on the brink of insolvency for years, battered by foreclosure filings, delinquent tax claims, building code violations and the loss of contracts with two major H.M.O.'s. ... It might seem the health care legislation being written in Washington, with its emphases on primary care, lowering costs and improving access, would provide answers for clinics like Milwaukee Immediate Care. But [clinic president Perry] Margoles thinks things may be too far gone in his clinic's neighborhood. Yes, he said, covering more of the uninsured would help his bottom line, which has been red in each of the last two years. But the bigger problem, he said, is the below-cost reimbursement provided by Medicaid, which insures three-fourths of the clinic's patients" (Sack, 9/1).

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