Mayo Clinic Saying “No” to Medicare Patients

  Low reimbursements make Mayo Clinic turn away Medicare recipients.  A Glendale, AZ, family clinic operated by the non-profit Mayo Clinic is no longer accepting Medicare patients, saying government payments are too low.  The more than 3,000 Medicare-eligible patients who use the facility will be forced to pay cash or find a physician at another location.  The decision, which doesn’t impact other Mayo facilities in Arizona, Minnesota and Florida, is a two-year pilot project, according to spokesman Michael Yardley.

Mayo’s move may lead additional family physicians to drop Medicare patients, according to Lori Heim, president of the National Association of Family Physicians.  “Many physicians have said, ‘I simply cannot afford to keep taking care of Medicare patients,'” Heim said.  “If you truly know your business costs and you are losing money, it doesn’t make sense to do more of it.”

Mayo’s Yardley defended his organization, noting that “We firmly believe that Medicare needs to be reformed.  It has been true for many years that Medicare payments no longer reflect the increasing cost of providing services for patients.”  Nationally, physicians were reimbursed approximately 20 percent less for treating Medicare patients vs. privately insured patients in 2007.  That payment gap has not changed over the last 10 years, says a report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a group that advises Congress on Medicare.  At the end of 2008, approximately 45 million Americans were covered by Medicare, according to statistics from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  Although 92 percent of family physicians participate in Medicare, just 73 percent are accepting new patients under the program.

Medicare patients who opt to stay with their physician at Mayo’s Glendale clinic will pay $1,500 annually for a physical and three additional visits.  Additionally, they will pay a $250 annual administrative fee.

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