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Affordable Care Act Could Have An Impact On Local Health Clinics

Derrick Blakley Derrick Blakley
Derrick Blakley is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Health clinics that serve the poor could become an unintended casualty of the Affordable Care Act. Will their patients still turn to the clinic once they have coverage?

CBS 2′s Derrick Blakley takes a look at the impact on clinics for low-income patients in this original report.

Matthew Langer has been unemployed and uninsured for three years. That’s why he’s a patient at Chicago Family Health Center.

“I think they’re pretty competent here. I like the service I’ve had,” said Langer.

But when Langer signs up for Obamacare, he could go to Rush or University of Chicago or anywhere. That’s the new challenge for clinics that traditionally serve the poor.

“Today, community health centers, like all providers, must compete in the marketplace to retain patients,” said Warren Brodine, CEO of Chicago Family Health Center.

Today, 44 percent of Chicago family’s patients are uninsured, but with health coverage comes new options.

“They will have the opportunity to try out or select a different provider for their primary care and other services,” said Brodine.

The other challenge: dealing with a flood of newly-insured patients. A $6 million Obamacare grant allowed Chicago Family to build a new, expanded clinic in Pullman, but the patients CBS 2 spoke with, like Cynthia Jeffries, insist they’re staying put.

Jeffries first came to Chicago Family when she didn’t have insurance, but still comes even though she is now insured.

“I like the doctors here. I like how they take care of me here,” said Jeffries.

Chicago family is expanding facilities and adding doctors as it gears up to expand the number of patients its handles from 30,000 today to as many as 42,000 next year.