MA physicians challenge retail clinic plan

If it gets its way, CVS will open up 30 or more MinuteClinics throughout the Boston, MA area in the near future. But it might not be so easy to do that. Under fire from physicians, state regulators are considering adding additional restrictions to existing rules governing the clinics, in some cases increasing overhead for locations which compete largely on price.

Currently, state rules would allow CVS--and its competitors--to open up retail clinics using a limited-service clinic license. (That's how CVS has rolled out locations in other states.) However, like their peers elsewhere, area physicians argue that the clinics aren't kosher. For example, they charge that such clinics may not be sanitary enough, given that they don't require clinics to have their own sinks. They also suggest that the MinuteClinics could face conflicts of interest when prescribing, given that their employer sells drugs.

State regulators don't seem inclined to refuse CVS's application. However, they say they might consider establishing a minimum patient age and requiring clinics to answer phone calls after hours, among other possible changes to the rules. Existing regs would also require the clinics to limit return visits, refer patients to primary care for more-complex illnesses and give patients and their doctors a copy of their medical records.

To learn more about the debate:
- read this piece from The Boston Globe

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