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Business

The good news about WalMart

The clinics keep longer hours than doctors' offices, and don't require appointments. My son needs a school form completed right now, but his ear canals are blocked by wax, so I'm supposed to wait a week for a doctor to see him? Plus, they cost less.And the care, for basic needs, is just as good.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

If President Obama wants to disarm his critics Wednesday night he might start by heaping praise on WalMart. And CVS.

Along with the whole industry they're pioneering, in-store or free-standing medical clinics run, mostly, by nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants.

A new study posted at the Annals of Internal Medicine calls the care at these clinics first-rate.

A team under Dr. Ateev Mahotra at the University of Pittsburgh studied data from Minnesota's retail clinics and found it to be just as good as at a doctor's office for common things like ear infections.

Many of these clinics belong to a trade group called the Convenient Care Association, launched earlier this year, which is pushing their industry into states like Texas.

The most politically-useful aspect of the clinics may be opponents like Scott D. Hayworth, secretary of the American Medical Group Association, who argues maybes and damned the clinics with faint praise to HealthNews recently.

The clinics keep longer hours than doctors' offices, and don't require appointments. My son needs a school form completed right now, but his ear canals are blocked by wax, so I'm supposed to wait a week for a doctor to see him? Plus, they cost less. And the care, for basic needs, is just as good.

Claims of "conflict of interest" from medical groups also ring hollow when seen against the reality of physicians self-referring to their own hospitals and diagnostic centers.

All this will make doctors' groups a convenient scapegoat for Wednesday's speech if the President wishes to go there. Especially since he can then ask when all employees at such large employers at WalMart will have coverage for their basic health care needs.

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