Uh-oh … Mayo Clinic to Medicare Seniors: "Sorry, cash only"

Ken’s Take: The Mayo & Cleveland Clinics are frequently cited as ObamaCare’s best practice models. Yesterday, the Mayo Clinic in Arizona stopped taking Medicare patients — unless they’re willing and able to pay CASH out of their own pockets.  Oops.

Why?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cautioned that, under the proposed benefit cut, “providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).”
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=517004

So, Americans who have paid into the Medicare system for their entire working lives end up paying for health care out of their own pockets. Is that fair?

* * * * *

Excerpted from Bloomberg News: Mayo Clinic in Arizona to Stop Treating Some Medicare Patients , Dec. 31, 2009

The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Barack Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients at one of its primary-care clinics in Arizona, saying the U.S. government pays too little.

More than 3,000 patients eligible for Medicare … will be forced to pay cash if they want to continue seeing their doctors at a Mayo family clinic in Glendale.

A Medicare patient who chooses to stay at Mayo’s Glendale clinic will pay about $1,500 a year for an annual physical and three other doctor visits, according to an October letter from the facility. Each patient also will be assessed a $250 annual administrative fee.

* * * * *

Obama has frequently cited the nonprofit Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for offering “the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm.”

Mayo’s move to drop Medicare patients may be copied by family doctors, some of whom have stopped accepting new patients from the program.

“Many physicians have said, ‘I simply cannot afford to keep taking care of Medicare patients … If you truly know your business costs and you are losing money, it doesn’t make sense to do more of it.”

Medicare Loss

The Mayo organization lost $840 million last year on Medicare. The program’s payments cover about 50 percent of the cost of treating elderly primary-care patients at the Glendale clinic where “Medicare payments no longer reflect the increasing cost of providing services for patients.”

* * * * * *

Nationwide, doctors made about 20 percent less for treating Medicare patients than they did caring for privately insured patients in 2007.

Medicare covered an estimated 45 million Americans at the end of 2008.

While 92 percent of U.S. family doctors participate in Medicare, only 73 percent of those are accepting new patients under the program .

There not enough new doctors becoming family doctors, internists and pediatricians who oversee patients’ primary care.

“Some primary care doctors don’t have to see Medicare patients because there is an unlimited demand for their services … When patients with private insurance can be treated at 50 percent to 100 percent higher fees … then Medicare does indeed look like a poor payer.”

Full article:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=aHoYSI84VdL0

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