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    AMA Calls For Investigation Of Store-Based Health Clinics

The American Medical Association (AMA) announced today that it would call for investigations into potential conflicts of interest posed by joint ventures between store-based health clinics and pharmacy chains.

The AMA's call for investigations was driven by retailers who have stated that store-based health clinics help drive additional store traffic, which can increase sales of lucrative prescription drugs and other non-health related products.

"There are clear incentives for retailers to participate in the implementation and operation of store-based health clinics," said AMA Board Member Peter Carmel, M.D. "The nation's physicians want the AMA to ensure these incentives do not compromise the basic obligation of store-based health clinics to provide patients with quality care."

The nation's physician leaders meeting at the AMA Annual Meeting voted to adopt the following directive instructing the AMA to:

1.) ask the appropriate state and federal agencies to investigate ventures between retail clinics and pharmacy chains with an emphasis on inherent conflicts of interest in such relationships, patients' welfare and risk, and professional liability concerns.

2.) continue to work with interested state and specialty medical societies in developing guidelines for model legislation that regulates the operation of store-based health clinics.

3.) oppose waiving any state and/or federal regulations for store-based health clinics that do not comply with existing standards of medical practice facilities.

In separate action, physicians updated principles for the promotion of quality and safety at store-based health clinics adopted last year at the AMA policy-making meeting. Physicians today approved an additional principle that seeks equal treatment for physicians regarding health insurers' co-payment policies. These financial incentives may inappropriately steer patients to these clinics on the basis of cost rather than quality of care.

"Health insurers are allowing store-based health clinics to waive or lower patient co-payments, while forcing physicians to collect these fees, said Dr. Carmel. "The AMA believes health insurers should be prohibited from waiving or lowering co-payments only for patients that receive services at store-based health clinics."

The AMA and several national medical societies will continue to pursue a course of action that ensures AMA principles are used to regulate the provision of care in store-based health clinics.

American Medical Association

Publication Date: 2007-06-26 02:00

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