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The University of Minnesota is shutting down a nurse practitioner clinic in the Downtown East neighborhood that was heralded at its opening for addressing potential shortages in primary care.

Nurse practitioners at the Minneapolis clinic cared for an average of 800 patients per year during nearly a decade of operations, according to Connie White Delaney, dean of the U's School of Nursing.

The school has provided more than $3 million in operational subsidies since the clinic opened in 2015.

"Despite its positive health outcomes and exceptionally high patient satisfaction scores, the nurse practitioner clinic has not been financially viable," Delaney said in a statement to the Star Tribune. "The U.S. continues to face a significant shortage of primary care providers ... but the financial model to sustain these [nurse-practitioner led] primary care practices has not evolved."

Health insurance reimbursements at the clinic have been a key problem, the U says. Medicare payments are 15% lower when treatment is provided by nurse practitioners rather than physicians, according to the university.

"Both commercial and government payers reimburse primary care at lower rates than other kinds of care, which creates a built-in financial pressure for clinics that focus on primary care," Delaney said.

The U Medical School continues to support five community clinics that also receive funding from the state and local health systems — dollars that weren't available, the university says, for the nurse practitioner clinic.

Last year, the U closed another nurse practitioner-led clinic at its Clinics and Surgery Center building on its East Bank campus.

The Downtown East clinic is scheduled to close Oct. 31.

University of Minnesota Physicians, the medical group for U doctors, is working to find other jobs for clinic staff within the U health system. Patients are being notified and offered help in finding a new clinic location.

The closure comes as the U has been touting its primary care investments while making a broad push to bolster academic health programs including the purchase of University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis.

The U's commitment to primary care was lauded over the past year by a task force on academic health convened by Gov. Tim Walz. The group formulated recommendations for policymakers about funding the U's training programs during meetings that frequently touched on the university's goal to reacquire its teaching hospital from Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services.

A final report from the task force noted the challenge for academic health centers to fund primary care training and services, even though primary care is one of the critical areas where access has diminished.

"Minnesota has unrealized potential in its broad health ecosystem to develop innovative models of prevention and care — from community-based to primary care to highly specialized care," the report said.

"Within that ecosystem, the University of Minnesota has a unique opportunity to use the breadth and strength of its health sciences schools collectively, and maximize collaboration with its schools of design, engineering, law and technology, to design and implement the models of the future."