Update: this happened 2 years ago. So, I wrote this thinking it was a new development, but it isn’t. Anyone know how this experiment has played out?
I’ve wondered for years if hospital organizations (and big organized clinics) had done the math on whether they could do without Medicare, and apparently Mayo has. More after the quote
President Obama last year praised the Mayo Clinic as a “classic example” of how a health-care provider can offer “better outcomes” at lower cost. Then what should Americans think about the famous Minnesota medical center’s decision to take fewer Medicare patients?
Specifically, Mayo said last week it will no longer accept Medicare patients at one of its primary care clinics in Arizona. Mayo said the decision is part of a two-year pilot program to determine if it should also drop Medicare patients at other facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, which serve more than 500,000 seniors.
Mayo says it lost $840 million last year treating Medicare patients, the result of the program’s low reimbursement rates. Its hospital and four clinics in Arizona—including the Glendale facility—lost $120 million. Providers like Mayo swallow some of these Medicare losses, while also shifting the cost by charging more to private patients and insurers.
First thought: the docs at the Mayo Clinic must have gotten some amazing assurances from the clinic to drop Medicare for 2 years. (If a physician opts out of accepting medicare, and it’s an all or nothing proposition, and under current law they cannot get their medicare billing back for 2 years. No doubt this was done to keep docs from using their opt-out as political leverage, and then get it restored when payments went the way they wanted).
Second thought: Mayo just became a Concierge Clinic. Interesting.
Third: I’m very interested in knowing what administrative advantages would follow dropping Medicare. EMTALA would no longer apply, but this is a clinic, not a hospital/ED, so I’m not sure that would affect them much. (I may misunderstand the role and capabilities of this Arizona Mayo Clinic, so let me know if I’m wrong here).
There are always strings attached with taking Uncle’s money, and they don’t lessen over time, they compound. I think HIPAA is linked to Medicare, too, so that gigantic unfunded mandate could stop.
*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*