Mayo Clinic to stop serving Medicare patients.
This tidbit was mentioned months ago during the intense healthcare debate in the Washington Post, but it never got any scrutiny. The Mayo Clinic in my home state is going to reduce the number of Medicare patients that it will take because the reimbursement rates from the government are too low:
The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Barack Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients as of tomorrow 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, the government’s largest health-insurance program, will be forced to pay cash if they want to continue seeing their doctors at a Mayo family clinic in Glendale, northwest of Phoenix, said Michael Yardley, a Mayo spokesman. The decision, which Yardley called a two-year pilot project, won’t affect other Mayo facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.
First of all, people being “forced” to pay cash for services is a good thing. The way the article uses the word to describe how patients must pay physicians is a suggestion that the authors believe that healthcare is a “right”. Of course, the logical question of this is how will this right be “enforced”? If clinics start drying up and physicians stop taking more government paying patients, how will people get this “right” to healthcare?
Secondly, one other thing that should be inferred from this article is the unrealistic assumption that the Congress will cut Medicare reimbursement rates. If Congress cuts Medicare reimbursement rates you will see more and more physicians declining to accept Medicare patients as they will not be able to afford to stay in operation. So Congress will not do what it says it will and the numbers that it has been presenting to the CBO to show that the healthcare bills will be “deficit neutral” has been flawed or downright deceitful. Can you imagine what would happen if a private business were to engage in such chicanery? Well, you don’t have to imagine: Enron went bankrupt and its executives ended up in jail. Of course, since government supporters see the push for universal healthcare as a benevolent goal, nary a peep arises at the blatant attempt to deceive the American people.
Finally, this article also features a little tidbit for so-called “intellectuals” to see the answer that is right in front of their faces:
Mayo’s Medicare losses in Arizona may be worse than typical for doctors across the U.S., Heim said. Physician costs vary depending on business expenses such as office rent and payroll. “It is very common that we hear that Medicare is below costs or barely covering costs,” Heim said.
Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said physicians’ claims of inadequate reimbursement are overstated. Rather, the program faces a lack of medical providers because not enough new doctors are becoming family doctors, internists and pediatricians who oversee patients’ primary care.
Umm, Mr. Berenson, perhaps the reason no one is becoming a family doctor, internist or pediatrician is because the cost of running an office for basic services is kinda expensive and the reimbursement rates from both Medicare AND private insurance are not commensurate to what it costs to actually run an office, even if private insurance reimburses at “50 to 100%” for any services the doctor provides (probably because private insurance only reimburses the Medicare rate plus an extra percentage above the Medicare rate as an incentive to the doctor. Not exactly a way to run a business, no?)?