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Clinic adopts new name today [The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.]

Mar31

Apr. 1URBANA As of today, the longtime Carle Clinic name is history. So is the clinic’s status as a for-profit group physician practice.
The $250 million sale of the Urbana-based clinic system to not-for-profit Carle Foundation Hospital was finalized Wednesday, and clinic buildings were set to open their doors this morning under a new name, Carle Physician Group, according to Carle spokeswoman Jennifer Hendricks.
Most of the regulatory hurdles to the sale were crossed earlier this month, and the last one, approval by the Illinois Department of Insurance, was granted in mid-March.
The sale included the main Carle Clinic facility and all branch clinics, plus the clinic’s subsidiary, Health Alliance Medical Plans, which will operate as a for-profit business under the merged not-for-profit organization.
Hendricks said she doubts it will be hard for patients to adjust to the clinic name change, because to most clinic patients, the name is already "just Carle." Carle officials were scheduled to conduct a media briefing about the merger at 10 a.m. today, but Hendricks said some of the changes patients will notice right away will be: Patients coming to see their doctors are now eligible to apply for charity care assistance, which provides free or reduced-cost medical care for needy patients who are income-eligible.
The registration system will be updated, so patients should be prepared at their first doctor visits to verify their insurance information.
Bills for what have been clinic services received from today onward will come under the new Carle Physician Group name.
Most of the clinic doctors have agreed to become employees of the Carle Foundation, Hendricks said.
Champaign County Health Care Consumers, a patient advocacy organization, has been helping Carle work out details of its expanded charity care program and will waste no time letting patients know it’s now available to more people, said the organization’s executive director, Claudia Lennhoff.
"Hallelujah!" she said Wednesday, after hearing the sale was completed.
Late last year, Carle officials said the clinic was cutting off service to about 1,500 to 2,000 patients out of about 300,000 a year. Some of those patients turned to Health Care Consumers for help.
"We have quite a few clients who have been no-serviced, so one of the first things we’re going to do is go through our lists of clients and identify the ones who have been having this problem and reach out to them and show them how to apply for Community (charity) Care," Lennhoff said.
She encouraged everyone who has been cut off from care at Carle Clinic due to an outstanding bill to see if they qualify for help under the new program.
"If they’re uncertain, call us and we’ll help them apply for these benefits," she added.

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Copyright (c) 2010, The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
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