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News of the Day ... In Perspective


Alternative to TennCare: Private clinic offers affordable care to the uninsured

Over the next few weeks, about 226,000 individuals will receive a disenrollment letter from TennCare, notifying them that they will join the ranks of 500,000 Tennesseans who are already uninsured.

While Gov. Bredesen’s Task Force on the Health-Care Safety Net has suggested a tangle of bureaucratic options, he is apparently ignoring the private-sector option exemplified by the Patmos Clinic, founded by Robert S. Berry, M.D.

Since 2001, Dr. Berry has attended more than 15,000 visits by uninsured patients at about one-third the cost of area urgent-care facilities and one-tenth the cost of emergency rooms—without public support either directly in the form of government grants or indirectly through nonprofit incorporation.

Fees are little more than the $32 office copayment suggested by the governor’s consulting group for “able-bodied” citizens.

“Tennesseans don’t want more public health care,” writes Dr. Berry. “In the East Tennessee area where our clinic is based, discounted and free medical care is already available at the county health department and three nearby rural health consortium clinics. Still, over 3,500 uninsured patients and 500 TennCare recipients have chosen instead to pay out of their own pockets at our clinic rather than wait to see a nurse practitioner at one of these government facilities” (Tennessean.com 6/18/05).

Additional information:

Presentation by Dr. Berry on CD, email [email protected] for a free copy.

Testimony of Robert Berry, M.D., to Joint Economic Committee

“Third-Party-Free Clinic Opens,” AAPS News, March 2001.

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