The Future for Medicare Patients

Posted: Jan 04, 2010 4:19 PM
While the health care debate seems to have taken a back seat for a bit,  House and Senate negotiators are trying to hammer out details of legislation upon which both chambers can agree. It'll be an arduous process.  No one is certain how it will play out and what the final bill will look like. But one thing we do know is that whatever bill comes out of the Conference Committee, it will be bad for America's seniors.

It's no secret that the Democrats hope to cut $500 billion from Medicare, which covers America's disabled and those 65 years of age and older. But even without the cuts, the Mayo Clinic announced starting the first of this year that they will stop accepting Medicare patients at one of its primary-care clinics in Glendale, AZ. It’s feared that this move will be replicated by family doctors, many of whom have already stopped accepting new patients from the program because the U.S. government reimburses them too little. 

Here are some startling statistics revealed in the Bloomberg article:

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

~ Nationwide, doctors made about 20 percent less for treating Medicare patients than they did caring for privately insured patients in 2007.

~ While 92 percent of U.S. family doctors participate in Medicare, only 73 percent of those are accepting new patients under the program.

While no one here in Congress argues that America's health care system is perfect the way it is, what is clear is that the Democrat's plans to reform it will make it worse.

Republicans have presented a better way, but it's fallen on Democrat leadership's deaf ears here in the Capitol.