Anna family medical practice closes due to delayed payments - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Anna family medical practice closes due to delayed payments

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ANNA --The Illinois budget impasse has caused delayed payments to healthcare providers throughout the region, making it difficult for many to run a business.

The problem hits especially hard for doctors who treat state employees. It's forced one family doctor in Anna to sell her practice to a bigger company.

Hunter-Reach Family medicine will soon become property of Southern Illinois Healthcare. The main doctor at Hunter-Reach said the change comes after long, and painful consideration, something other doctors say they understand all too well.

Doctor William Ribbing, chief medical officer at Anna Rural Health says state money problems have become an issue for doctors as Illinois has failed to keep up with health insurance bills for state workers.

"Delayed payments or no payments at all from those insurance carriers that are covering the state employees," Ribbing said.

He says, it forces small, private clinics to make tough choices.

"Either close down or go to a bigger business and sell out," Ribbing said.

It's apparently happened in Anna, where after six years of caring for people in Union County and southern Illinois, Hunter-Reach Family Medicine is now preparing  to shut down. A sign on the door at the clinic warns patients that it will be closed within two weeks. Delayed payments from the state make it no longer feasible to keep the doors open.

Doctor Pamela Hunter-Reach sent a letter to patients, describing the decision to sell her practice to Southern Illinois healthcare as "painful." It doesn't mention when SIH will take over and reopen the facility.

Debra Armes, a patient at the clinic, told News 3 in a letter, the move left her "deeply saddened and angry that the state's failure to reach a budget and pay their bills in a timely manner  means that her family will lose its long-time health care provider."

Ribbing said this often means patients must start over with new doctors and that some could end up temporarily going to emergency rooms for basic treatments.

"Which is much more expensive care, so there's a bigger bill coming to the state," Ribbing said.

We made attempts to reach Dr. Hunter-Reach, but she did not have time to comment on this story. In the letter Doctor Hunter-Reach sent to her patients she said she will work with SIH to ensure care will continue, uninterrupted.

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