TX public health system faces loss of profitable patients

Sometimes, government agencies have to fight for business, too. This time around, it's the Harris (TX) County Hospital District, which has seen a drop in the number of patients visiting its hospitals and clinics. Officials with the District, who attribute the drop to the growth of walk-in clinics and expanded Medicare drug coverage, are worried about its future as paying patients with good insurance go elsewhere. During the first few months of 2008, the District saw 5.5 percent more charity care patients than 2006, a trend that puts the organization on track to spend an additional $47 million on charity care, officials there said. Senior executives with the District are thinking about fighting back the American way--imitating the competition--by creating their own walk-in clinics. Right now, patients may wait two weeks or more to be seen.

To learn more about the District's financial dilemma:
- read this Houston Chronicle piece

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