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E. Closing Clinics Costs Money

Narrator: : This is Science Today. Dr. Andrew Bindman of the University of California, San Francisco found that people with chronic medical conditions like asthma were more likely to be hospitalized, rather than treated and sent home, if they didn't have a regular primary care doctor -- because emergency room doctors, unfamiliar with their conditions, tended to hospitalize them. Bindman found that during one year, unnecessary hospitalizations cost one billion dollars in California alone.

Bindman: And this is what's so worrisome and strange about the decisions in places like Los Angeles county to try to address their budget problems in the health care area by shutting down their primary care clinics. It just doesn't seem like a very wise policy, because ultimately these patients will need to go for care somewhere, they'll show up in emergency rooms and ultimately end up in the hospital in many cases where it will ultimately cost more money.

Narrator: : Although Bindman's study was confined to California, he thinks the results can be applied nationally.

Bindman: I don't think California is unique in any way in terms of the types of problems we've identified here.

Narrator: : For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.