Reality Check: Instead of cutting health clinics, should Cincinn - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Reality Check: Instead of cutting health clinics, should Cincinnati be opening more?

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In just a matter of months, the city of Cincinnati could pull funding from all of its 5 health clinics.

Here are the numbers.

The city is facing a 35 million dollar budget deficit in 2012.   By cutting funding from the 5 public health clinics, the city could save about 8 million dollars a year.  For 2011, those clinics operate on over $17.2 million a year.  $8 million or so comes from the city and the rest from federal matching dollars.  If you pull the local money, so goes the feds money.

68,000 people in Cincinnati make up the 137,000 visits to the clinics each year.  City Councilman Charlie Winburn is introducing a plan called the Adopt a Health Clinic Initiative.

5 area hospitals are being asked to each take responsibility for one clinic.  According to the "Business Courier 2011 Book of Lists", Children's Hospital has an annual net revenue of $1.04 billion dollars.

With the other 4 area hospitals, in all, Winburn calculates that comes to over 3 billion dollars in net revenue.  He is asking the hospitals to chip in $8 million collectively or $1.6 million dollars each, per year, to keep the clinics open.  

But the reality is that each hospital is probably not going to take control of a health clinic.  That's because under the way federal law hands out re-imbursements.  The system would pay lower reimbursements for health services if one hospital took over 1 clinic.

The feds pay higher reimbursements if it is a community board that oversees the clinics partnership with hospitals and private practices.  That board must consist of people who utilize those health services at a rate of at  least 51% and that board is currently being assembled.

Here's what you need to know.

While the specifics of Winburn's plan may have to be worked out in order to make the most of federal re-imbursements, Colleen O'Toole with the Greater Cincinnati Health Council tells me that area hospitals believe creating a network of health partners from hospitals to private practices and the City and County Health Departments is critical.

If the Affordable Care Act is not repealed, O'Toole tells me there are major concerns about what will happen to the healthcare system.  In Massachusetts,  when they passed their statewide healthcare law, healthcare agencies did not anticipate the enormous response they would receive from people who previously had no health insurance but were now covered.  Those people overwhelmed the current system.  In that case, she says Cincinnati shouldn't be looking at how to cut health clinic  but where they can find funding to open even more and as soon as possible.

And that is Reality Check.

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