Updated: 08/21/2014 10:13 PM
Created: 08/21/2014 7:30 PM KSTP.com
By: Josh Rosenthal
The Neighborhood Involvement Program medical clinic (NIP), which has treated uninsured patients in Minneapolis since 1972, is closing because of "an extraordinary financial situation due to the Affordable Care Act," according to a letter sent to the clinic's patients.
"We were one of the first clinics when the AIDS scare started that would actually see patients who were HIV positive," remembered Nurse Siri Hustad.
"It's like a dream job. Done," added Susie Fry, another nurse.
The N.I.P. clinic opened in 1972. They have 240 volunteers and just 11 paid staff members. They once had more than 4,000 patients per year. Now they're down to less than 3,000.
Patsy Bartley is N.I.P.'s president and CEO. She cited a few factors forcing the clinic to shut down. One is that drop in clients. Another is that some mandates in the ACA are just too expensive, like a new requirement that all medical records be kept electronically, something the clinic never did to keep costs down. The ACA offers grants to pay for electronic medical records, but under the clinic's current model, it didn't qualify.
Bartley wants everyone to be insured. Overall, she thinks the Affordable Care Act is a good thing. But her main concern is what happens to the people, who even with the ACA, still fall through the cracks.
"We don't take insurance," Bartley explained, "we don't take public assistance, we are literally that sliding scale fee group that's here as that safety net."
Soon, the safety net will be gone. An unintended consequence of legislation aimed at helping the same patients NIP's medical professionals have helped for decades.
The last day of patient services will be Aug. 29.