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It has become a business imperative in American medicine to marginalize patients on Medicaid. Their health problems can be costly and complicated — often, the product of other structural barriers that stand in the way of good health — and lower government reimbursement means doctors typically lose money on their care.

But a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup called Cityblock Health is turning that equation on its head by running toward the very patients many providers run away from. This month, its model of delivering stepped-up primary care to low-income patients raked in $160 million from venture capital firms. That funding — which values the 3-year-old company at $1 billion — signals a significant bet from investors who believe Cityblock can succeed in an area where payers have failed for years.

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