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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 1, 2010


David Olmos, Bloomberg - 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, 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.

Obama in June 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, 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."

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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its the fault of having various insurance companies, with their various demands, exclusions, and types of forms, that require Dr's offices to staff so many employees.

A single payer plan would eliminate all that, and get rid of the real drag on the system.

January 1, 2010 1:33 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

And how was the $840 million arrived at. Based on current doctor's salaries? Based on some percentage of revenue against total expenses (which include costs to deal with insurance companies). Is it an attempt to blame losses due to inefficiencies on Medicare? My point is that a number all by itself doesn't prove much.

January 1, 2010 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of it was probably based on what Doctors have to pay for malpractice insurance. But we don't need tort reform.

January 5, 2010 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is going to be the trend for healthcare provider to drop Medicare. It is just not make sense to take care country's sickest patients and get reimbursed less than plubmer, auto technician, garbage collector, etc. Healthcare providers loss money by caring Medicare patients. Is there any company or business in US would do that? Ask Jack Welch! Ask Warren Buffet!

January 8, 2010 5:09 PM  

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