Today's Wall Street Journal contains an interesting story on the Mayo Clinic. ("Medicare and the Mayo Clinic", WSJ online, 1/8/09.) Many of us have friends or relatives who have received excellent treatment at this clinic, and the Obama administration has touted the Mayo clinic as an example of cost savings producing better treatment outcomes. But as this story reports, Mayo is losing a lot of money on treating medicare patients. The low reimbursement rates don't cover the costs of treatment. As a result, they are refusing to take on medicare patients in one of its clinics.
This confirms a point made in a previous post about the healthcare reform bill. The budget savings touted by Sen. Nelson and other supporters proceed on the unrealistic assumption that medicare reimbursement rates are not raised in the future. But as doctors refuse to take on medicare patients, how is this helping seniors? And what will be the response? Will rates (and government expenditures) increase further, so that the government is incapable of keeping its promises? Or will there be a greater impetus for further government involvement that will expand this form of rationing to all citizens? (i.e., Comrade, you must treat all who come to you). This bill is not the grand solution touted by its supporters.