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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Provider groups object to MinuteClinics in CVS stores

By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff

Wait a minute!

Five medical-provider groups say they have major objections to CVS Caremark's plan to open 20 to 30 MinuteClinics in Boston-area stores by the fall.

In a letter this week to state public health Commissioner John Auerbach, the groups called for a public hearing on the proposal; they said his department should not waive certain clinic requirements for CVS without a hearing and vote by the Public Health Council. CVS wants a waiver of many normal clinic licensing requirements, such as having blood collection equipment because the clinics won't do blood tests.

The groups objected to granting waivers of "basic public health protections and standards of care to a for-profit company in order to reduce the economic burden to that company in competing with other health care providers. ..." They said a waiver would be unfair to medical providers struggling to meet regulations.

Groups that signed the letter are the Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians, Massachusetts Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, Massachusetts Hospital Association, and Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

The Department of Public Health did not make any promises about whether it would hold a public hearing before deciding on CVS's application. "The Commissioner will certainly consider the request from these organizations," the department said in a written statement. "We recently organized a meeting to hear from both proponents and opponents of the proposal and we value the input that we received."

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