Old? Poor? ZOOM+ Doctors May Not Be Ready to See You Now

Labor groups argue ZOOM+ clinics discriminate against Medicare, Medicaid and Tri-Care patients.

Oregon and Washington labor organizations will be protesting outside of two ZOOM+ clinics in Seattle and Portland today, accusing the on-demand neighborhood health clinics of discriminating against poor and elderly patients.

In Portland, the protest will be located outside the Hawthorne ZOOM+ clinic at noon.

The organizations are speaking out against ZOOM+'s policy of not accepting Medicare, Medicaid and Tri-Care patients, practices which the labor organizations claim allows the for-profit company to "cherry-pick" young and healthy clients, leaving older clients with more health problems to other organizations.

Related: ZOOM+ is a company that state regulators still find inexplicable.

"Segmenting the population like this is a prescription for inefficient and lower quality health care," wrote the labor organizations in a press release. "If Zoom avoids the problem of dealing with poorer, aging patients, who have chronic health problems by marketing only to a young and healthy demographic, it shifts care for the poor, disabled and elderly to responsible providers, and puts stress on their ability to care for all of us."

The protest's sponsors include Oregon AFL-CIO, Portland Jobs for Justice and Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action. The protest is spurred by ZOOM+'s plans to expand from 7 to 16 clinics in Seattle.

ZOOM+ has made arguments against Medicare and Medicaid in the past, with its CEO writing earlier this year that "while we greatly value Medicare's role in serving our seniors, it is not the model for our nation, for all Americans."

ZOOM+, founded in 2006 by two Portland doctors, has been praised by its supporters for its convenience, customer service, and transparent pricing, but has been called "fast-food healthcare" by its detractors and has received criticism from healthcare workers' unions for its lack of single-payer support.

Zoom+ CEO Dave Sanders tells WW that the rules of Medicare and Medicaid haven't kept up with the care ZOOM+ provides.

"Zoom is an experience. It's much more of an experiential healthcare," says Sanders. The company admits to marketing more to millennials, which it sees as being "all about the experience."

"When we grew up, people were all about the stuff, the material, the money," said Sanders. "I think people now are all about the experience. I love that about this generation.

"We'd like you to update and modernize your rules," said Sanders of Medicare and Medicaid's practices, which Sanders considers old-fashioned. "Why make us come down to the lowest common denominator? Why don't you modernize?"

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