Massachusetts Public Health Council Approves In-Store Health Clinics

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The Massachusetts Public Health Council, which sets policy for the state Department ofPublic Health, onTuesday approved in-store health clinics to be launched in the state, marking a"controversial shift in the health care landscape" by allowingfor-profit companies to participate in the state's health care system, the Boston Globe reports. Eight council members voted in favorof allowing the clinics and five abstained. The council will require strictpatient safety provisions, in addition to requiring that each clinic beindividually licensed by the state.

The clinics will treat minor ailments, including sore throats, ear infectionsand poison ivy, and be staffed by nurse practitioners trained to identify moreserious illnesses in patients, who would then be sent to a physician oremergency department (Smith, Boston Globe, 1/10). State Public HealthCommissioner John Auerbach said, "Properly regulated, these types ofclinics will serve an important function" (McConville, Boston Herald, 1/10). However, critics worry that theclinics will further fragment health care, according to the Globe.

MinuteClinics

In related news, CVS onTuesday announced it plans to open more than two dozen MinuteClinics in CVS stores across the state in 2008, withthe first clinics opening in the greater Bostonarea by the start of flu season next fall, MinuteClinic CEO Michael Howe said.The company plans to open 100 to 120 clinics in the state within three to fiveyears (Boston Globe, 1/10). Howe said, "MinuteClinic is delightedwith" the vote approving in-store health clinics, adding that it "willenable us to be part of Massachusetts'precedent-setting efforts to broaden access to quality health care" (BostonHerald, 1/10). Howe said that the clinics will "promote continuity ofcare" by sharing records of visits with patients' primary care physicians(Boston Globe, 1/10).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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