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Clinics may see patient increase after heath care ruling

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TWC News: Clinics may see patient increase after heath care ruling
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CHARLOTTE -- The staff at MedAssist, a community pharmacy that serves uninsured North Carolinians, expects to see their client load stay the same - and maybe increase - because of the health reform law.

"It's likely that our lowest income individuals that are in our program will remain in our program after January 2014," said Lori Giang, the center's executive director.

MedAssist provides prescriptions to 11,000 people across the state. Last year the organization handed out $19 million in medication to people without insurance.

Thursday's high court decision on health care could affect those numbers.

"The Supreme Court ruling really leaves more questions," said Giang.

At the heart of those questions is an expanded Medicaid program which would cover more people.

"What will the state of North Carolina do about the Medicaid expansion? And how aggressively will the state set up exchanges," said UNC Charlotte professor Bill Brandon, who studies health care economics.

The supreme court did not mandate the expanded medicaid coverage leaving the decision up to state legislatures.

"If we accept expanded Medicaid everybody in a family with an income of 138 percent of poverty will be able to go to a medical home," said Brandon.

If the state doesn't opt into the program, the team at MedAssist expects to be busy.
"We see that we will need to provide additional services to our clients that are currently in our program," Giang said.

Despite the uncertainty, she said MedAssist is committed to being a resource for people who can't afford their pills.

"We'll continue to work with our clinics to make sure that no one goes without their medication."

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