Free clinics close down after patients gain coverage under ACA

Several free clinics in different parts of the country are closing their doors as a result of the Affordable Care Act--and their doctors couldn't be happier about it, Thinking Points Memo reported.

RotaCare Tacoma clinic in Washington state, run by volunteer doctors and nurses, helped all of its 150 patients--most of whom had chronic conditions like diabetes--enroll in the new health insurance coverage and didn't have anyone left to serve, according to the article, closing the clinic doors earlier this year.

Although free clinic directors in Iowa and Ohio haven't seen levels change that drastically, another clinic in Arkansas closed in April when demand dropped from 300 patients to three as people gained access to coverage under ACA, according to the Arkansas Times.

Ninth Street Ministries Clinic, which provided care to impoverished patients in rural Arkansas for 15 years, closed after the clinic operators say that "the mission is complete" now that more people have gained coverage under healthcare reform, the Polk County Pulse reported.

However, clinic workers in Washington stressed that the need for such facilities is still strong, especially in states that failed to expand Medicaid, or in states with many undocumented immigrants who can't get coverage under the law, according to the TPM article.

Even after the ACA, the Congressional Budget Office estimates nearly 30 million people will remain uninsured for one reason or another by 2022, FierceHealthcare previously reported, meaning free clinics will remain an essential community fixture. 

To learn more:
- here's the TPM article
- read the Arkansas Times story
- check out the Polk County Post article