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Some say they have pared staff to a minimum while keeping some operations open to serve essential patient needs.

COURTESY PHOTO: THE LUND REPORT - Medical clinics across the region say they cannot stay open during the pandemic shutdown.Oregon's for-profit medical clinics have joined the long queue of businesses seeking help from the state and federal government to cope with the financial shock waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether they can make themselves heard above the clamor from hospital systems, government-run Medicaid clinics, restaurant chains, airlines, small businesses and many others, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, many clinics say they have pared back staff to a minimum while keeping some operations open to serve essential patient needs.

Seven large Oregon medical groups, which pre-COVID-19 had nearly 5,000 employees, are making a collective pitch that for-profit clinics deserve aid so they don't fold entirely during the crisis, leaving communities without basic health care when the virus emergency subsides.

While Oregon's hospitals are almost without exception nonprofits, the great majority of medical clinics in the state are for-profits, typically founded by physicians or other specialists. They usually have close working relationships with the hospital systems, where they often carry out surgeries or perform other procedures. All the clinics in the new coalition are private for-profits.

The clinic coalition is lobbying for a piece of the estimated $2.45 billion in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act -- or CARES Act -- aid that is expected to flow to Oregon, plus further federal aid now being negotiated in Washington, D.C. The clinics seek a waiver on paying the first and second quarters of the new Oregon corporate activity tax, a new levy on large businesses that aims to raise $1 billion a year to improve the state's K-12 schools. The coalition also wants the state to allow elective and non-emergency surgeries to resume as part of the "first wave of relaxing COVID restrictions." Prior to the state's temporary ban on non-emergency surgeries, the clinics made substantial revenues from these procedures.

This Lund Report story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.

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