Hold the Mayo

Mayo Clinics are one of the premier treatment centers in the U.S. and have been praised by Obama as a “national model for efficient health care”, but there is a problem. As of today, January 1, 2010, the Glendale Arizona Mayo clinic will no longer treat Medicare patients.


Because the government pays too little . . .

The Mayo organization had 3,700 staff physicians and scientists and treated 526,000 patients in 2008. It lost $840 million last year on Medicare, the government’s health program for the disabled and those 65 and older, Mayo spokeswoman Lynn Closway said.

This doesn’t bode well for those who are, and hope to be, part of any government run health care plan.

At the present time, the Glendale clinic is the only one withdrawing from Medicare but this decision could have a ripple effect to other clinics. And it doesn’t stop there.

Mayo’s move to drop Medicare patients may be copied by family doctors, some of whom have stopped accepting new patients from the program, said Lori Heim, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in a telephone interview yesterday.

“Many physicians have said, ‘I simply cannot afford to keep taking care of Medicare patients,’” said Heim, a family doctor who practices in Laurinburg, North Carolina. “If you truly know your business costs and you are losing money, it doesn’t make sense to do more of it.”

Family physicians and other primary care docs are on the low end of the pay scale and are squeezed more than any other medical providers. Typical reimbursement for an insured primary care visit in the Atlanta area can run as low as $42 with most running no higher than $60. In other words, a trip to the doc is about the same price as a lube & premium oil change with tire rotation.

And Medicare pays even less than traditional health insurance carriers.

Mayo’s hospital and four clinics in Arizona, including the Glendale facility, lost $120 million on Medicare patients last year, Yardley said. The program’s payments cover about 50 percent of the cost of treating elderly primary-care patients at the Glendale clinic, he said.

The folks in Washington love to get health care on the cheap and the proposals considered in Congress will cut funding for Medicare below current levels.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out this is not going to work.

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