Cheap clinics won't close doors because of healthcare act

10:43 PM, Jul 1, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis, MO (KSDK)-- Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that President Obama's healthcare overhaul is constitutional and will become law. So, with the changes, will free and low cost clinics have a reason to stay open? The short answer is yes.

Those that work in clinics are excited because the ruling goes along with most every clinic's mission statement. All they really want is cheap, affordable healthcare for the under and un-insured. What clinic directors fear is what individual states will do. If they decide to expand Medicaid, as the law requests, to include a larger portion of the population or if they decide to opt out.

"I think it's like a vital place," says clinic patient Elisa Castro.

Hundreds walk into Casa de Salud every day, some are under-insured, most are uninsured.

Castro has been coming here for years and only pays $25 per visit.

"I think it's great that everyone will have to have insurance, but it's still going to be expensive to go to the doctor's office or the emergency room I'm guessing," says Castro.

Free and low cost clinics like Casa de Salud are not going anywhere.

"We are absolutely pleased, now I need to let you know, that we don't know all of the answers to the decision," says CHIPS CEO Judy Bentley.

The healthcare fight may not be over yet as each state will now decide whether or not to increase its Medicaid coverage. Places like CHIPS, Community in Health Partnership Services, is waiting on pins and needles for the state's decision.

Bentley says if the Show-Me-State does decide to expand Medicaid, they may get busier.

"Our services will continue because everyone won't fit into that eligibility," she says.

If Missouri decides not to expand Medicaid there will still be tens of thousands of people uninsured.

Over at Casa de Salud, executive director Jorge Riopedre says he too thinks that clinics will get busier with whatever decision is made in Missouri.

"Even as this all shakes out, unfortunately Casa is not going to be at a loss for patients," says Riopedre.

So at least two St. Louis clinics are far from closing their doors because there will still be uninsured folks and there will be newly insured people trying to get inexpensive access.

"I think people are still going to come here because it's just a really nice place and they care about you," says Castro.



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