Posts Tagged ‘Mayo Clinic’

ObamaCare Factoid: Access To Health Care Doesn’t Mean Squat When Hospitals, Doctors And Pharmacists Bail

March 22, 2010

As an introduction, let me just say this: In this article, I detail that doctors and hospitals and pharmacies are going to bail out of Medicare and Medicaid – if they don’t just go out of business altogether.  They aren’t bailing out on private insurers – the free market businesses that Obama and the Democrats have continuously demonized and demagogued – they’re bailing out on the very government health care systems that liberals want to erect in the place of the free market health care system that they are destroying.  And as a matter of fact, the poorest and neediest are the ones who will likely suffer the most due to this terrible ObamaCare bill.

Congratulations, Democrats.  Thanks to the passage of ObamaCare, you and all your useless slacker friends who love to parasitically leach off of society will have access to health care.

Mind you, that “access” won’t mean squat as doctors, pharmacies, etc. stop accepting patients from Obama and his crappy government.

Don’t believe me?  Well, here’s some info from the New York Times:

EARLY this year, Barbara Plumb, a freelance editor and writer in New York who is on Medicare, received a disturbing letter. Her gynecologist informed her that she was opting out of Medicare. When Ms. Plumb asked her primary-care doctor to recommend another gynecologist who took Medicare, the doctor responded that she didn’t know any — and that if Ms. Plumb found one she liked, could she call and tell her the name?

Many people, just as they become eligible for Medicare, discover that the insurance rug has been pulled out from under them. Some doctors — often internists but also gastroenterologists, gynecologists, psychiatrists  and other specialists — are no longer accepting Medicare, either because they have opted out of the insurance system or they are not accepting new patients with Medicare coverage. The doctors’ reasons: reimbursement rates are too low and paperwork too much of a hassle.

When shopping for a doctor, ask if he or she is enrolled with Medicare. If the answer is no, that doctor has opted out of the system. Those who are enrolled fall into two categories, participating and nonparticipating. The latter receive a lower reimbursement from Medicare, and the patient has to pick up more of the bill.

Doctors who have opted out of Medicare can charge whatever they want, but they cannot bill Medicare for reimbursement, nor may their patients. Medigap, or supplemental insurance, policies usually do not provide coverage when Medicare doesn’t, so the entire bill is the patient’s responsibility.

The solution to this problem is to find doctors who accept Medicare insurance — and to do it well before reaching age 65. But that is not always easy, especially if you are looking for an internist, a primary care doctor who deals with adults. Of the 93 internists affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital, for example, only 37 accept Medicare, according to the hospital’s Web site.

Two trends are converging: there is a shortage of internists nationally — the American College of Physicians, the organization for internists, estimates that by 2025 there will be 35,000 to 45,000 fewer than the population needs — and internists are increasingly unwilling to accept new Medicare patients.

Sorry to throw you out on your ass, old timer.  But the government health care system sucks, and Zero is going to make it even suckier.

And here’s how Zero will make it suckier:

Updated January 14, 2010
Why Doctors Are Abandoning Medicare
By C.L. Gray, M.D.
FOXNews.com

Physicians will not be bullied into bankruptcy. Our system needs reform, but what’s being hammered out in Washington is not the answer.

Two weeks ago the Mayo Clinic shocked the nation when it closed the doors of one of its Arizona clinics to patients on Medicare. Just this past June President Obama himself praised Mayo as a model of medical efficiency noting that Mayo gives “the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm.” If Mayo feels compelled to walk away from this government-run program, others will surely follow. The nation must understand why.

Doctors are leaving Medicare for two reasons: one obvious, the other more concealed.

The first is simple—the math
:

1) For the past decade Medicare consistently paid physicians 20% less than traditional insurance companies for identical service.

2) On January 1, 2010 Washington made hidden cuts to Medicare by altering its billing codes.

3) Medicare will cut physician reimbursement by another 21% on March 1. The CBO said this cut must take place if the Senate healthcare bill was to “reduced the deficit.”

4) Even more, Congress pledged to cut Medicare by yet another $500 billion. Again, the CBO said this additional cut must take place if the Senate healthcare bill was to “reduced the deficit.”
Many physicians were operating at a loss even before this series of massive cuts. In 2008, Mayo Clinic posted an $840 million loss in caring for Medicare patients. No businesses can survive when patient care expenses exceed revenue.

The second is more ominous—Washington’s increasingly abusive posture toward physicians.

President Obama reflected this attitude last summer. On national television, he stated as fact a surgeon is paid between $30,000 and $50,000 for amputating a patient’s foot.

In reality, a surgeon is paid between $740 and $1,140 to perform this unfortunate, but often life-saving procedure. This reimbursement must cover a pre-operative evaluation the day of surgery, the surgery, and follow-up for 90 days after surgery—not to mention malpractice insurance, salaries for clinic nurses, and clinic overhead. It is frightening to think our president is so wildly misinformed even as he stands on the cusp of overhauling American health care. But it gets worse.

Given massive federal deficits, Washington now faces increasing pressure to cut Medicare spending. One way to do this is to intimidate physicians into under-billing. To do this Washington intends to spend tax payer dollars to ramp up physician audits using Recovery Audit Contractors (RAC audits) to randomly investigate private physician’s Medicare billing.

A physician group at my hospital recently experienced an AdvanceMed audit, an earlier version of the RAC. For a year Medicare auditors made their practice a living hell, making them question if it was worth caring for Medicare patients at all. [click to keep reading]

Do you remember that bit about the Mayo Clinic no longer accepting Medicare patients in Arizona?  That’s a trend the rest of the country is going to follow.  From the Wall Street Journal:

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.

Sorry, senior.  But you can’t get your prescriptions refilled, either.  From the Seattle Times:

Walgreens will stop taking new Medicaid patients in Washington state as of April 16, saying it loses money filling their prescriptions.

Effective April 16, Walgreens drugstores across the state won’t take any new Medicaid patients, saying that filling their prescriptions is a money-losing proposition — the latest development in an ongoing dispute over Medicaid reimbursement.

Now that ObamaCare has passed, get ready to see more and more doctors say bye-bye:

If ObamaCare passes, you may lose your family doctor.  Oh, and good luck finding a new one.

That’s the stunning conclusion of a new study by the Medicus Firm, as reported by Recruiting Physicians Today, a newletter published by the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine.  Medicus, a national physician search firm, surveyed 1,195 practicing physicians about the health reform plans pending in Congress.  The doctors, representing a wide range of specialties and career levels, were asked to assess the possible impact of ObamaCare on their careers, including “income, job satisfaction, and future career plans.”1

The bottom line of that investigation, titled Physician Survey: Health Reform’s Impact on Physician Supply and Quality of Medical Care, is summed up by Medicus managing partner Steve Marsh:  “What many people may not realize is that health reform could impact physician supply in such a way that the quality of health care could suffer.  The reality is that there may not be enough doctors to provide quality medical care to the millions of newly insured patients.”2

Why?  Put simply, doctors fear that ObamaCare would make the business and practice of medicine more trouble than it’s worth.  The surveyed physicians foresee in their future under ObamaCare a decrease in income coupled with an increased work load, a toxic combination of new regulations and taxes plus millions of newly insured individuals swelling their patient rosters.

The doctors assessed the possible impact of several iterations of ObamaCare.  For example, 72 percent felt their income would decrease under a health reform bill that included a public option, while 50 percent predicted a decrease in income under a health reform regime without a public option.

Not surprisingly, “an overwhelming 63 percent of physicians prefer a more gradual, targeted approach to health reform” as opposed to the massive, one-size fits all plans favored by the President and Congressional leaders.3 An astonishing 46 percent of responding primary care physicians claim they would leave or try to leave medicine as a result of ObamaCare, gravely exacerbating the existing shortage of primary care doctors (according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the number of U.S. medical school students choosing primary care has already dropped 52 percent since 1997).4

The Medicus results echo a similar Investors Business Daily poll of over 1,000 practicing physicians, 65 percent of whom expressed opposition to the President’s health reform plan, and 72 percent of whom doubted the administration’s claim that the government could significantly expand coverage and provide better care at lower costThe IBD poll, conducted in September of 2009, also found a startling number of physicians, 45 percent, who would consider quitting if ObamaCare becomes law.  The grim conclusion of the IBD survey:  “Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted.”5

If ObamaCare would drive practicing doctors out of work, it would also devastate efforts to recruit new physicians.  After all, how do you persuade talented young people to enter a business that promises high taxes, regulation, risk and stress – without commensurate compensation? For the average health care consumer, the result of this shrinking pool of physicians would be long waits and rationed care, to say nothing of overworked, unhappy doctors.

A CNN Money article details that children and the poorest and most vulnerable adults are going to increasingly suffer as doctors bail out of Medicaid.

There’s another inherent rub there.  Democrats pitched ObamaCare as taking care of “47 million Americans” who can’t afford insurance.  But the poor always had access to coverage under Medicaid.  The only reason many of these people don’t use Medicaid is because the government program is such a total disaster, or they can’t find a doctor who will lose money treating them.

I’ll quote myself from an earlier article to make a couple more points about the “47 million Americans” lie:

If you believe that the government is going to create a trillion dollar entitlement that ensures 47 million more people – (John Larson, chairman of the Democratic caucus, used the “47 million” figure on ABCs “This Week” just yesterday; he used it again on CNNs “State of the Union”) and spends less money than is spent now, you are an abject fool.

And that “47 million” clearly includes 17 million illegal immigrants.  The Democrats’ incredibly cynical plan is to take health resources from you and from your children and grandchildren and give those resources to illegal immigrants so they can capture the Hispanic vote.

The bottom line about ObamaCare is that it is a government program, in which the government demonizes and destroys the private system of insurers and doctors and hospitals and pharmacists that make the system work, and offer in its place an utter disaster.

This ObamaCare boondoggle is going to be a holocaust.  God only knows how many people – especially the poorest and most vulnerable – are going to die.  It’s going to be legalized murder.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I don’t think the Democrats’ intentions are all that good, but I do know that this is a road – scratch that, a superhighway – to hell.

Mayo Clinic Realizes ObamaCare A Total Disaster, Stops Accepting Medicare

January 1, 2010

What we have here is a very cute and clever title for a very disastrous development.

Mayo Says: Hold The Medicare
By Ed Carson
Thu., Dec. 31, ’09

The Mayo Clinic will stop accepting Medicare patients at one of its primary care clinics in Arizona. Why? The government doesn’t pay enough:

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.

This is nothing compared to what might happen under Democratic health overhaul plans, which would slash Medicare spending by nearly $500 billion over 10 years. As Medicare actuaries recently pointed out in understated fashion, such cuts “may be unrealistic.” But, if Congress actually carried them out, about one in five hospitals, nursing homes and home care agencies could lose money, they warned in their report.

As a result, such providers could drop Medicare, leaving seniors with less access.

This is now only going on at one Mayo clinic – but it is going to spread.

Don’t think for a second that this isn’t directly related to the disaster known as ObamaCare.  Democrats are gutting Medicare reimbursements and blocking the essential “doctor fix” from their bill to create the contrived and bogus illusion that their boondoggle will provide “deficit neutrality.”  They are playing all kinds of games and gimmicks, such as taxing for ten years and only providing benefits for five, to support that illusion.

It will fail, and a lot of people will die.

Alan B. Miller, an expert in the field of health care, wrote:

Medicare reimbursements to hospitals fail to cover the actual cost of providing services. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent congressional advisory agency, says hospitals received only 94.1 cents for every dollar they spent treating Medicare patients in 2007. MedPAC projects that number to decline to 93.1 cents per dollar spent in 2009, for an operating shortfall of 7%. Medicare works because hospitals subsidize the care they provide with revenue received from patients who have commercial insurance. Without that revenue, hospitals could not afford to care for those covered by Medicare. In effect, everyone with insurance is subsidizing the Medicare shortfall, which is growing larger every year.

As much as Obama and the Democrats have demonized private insurance (before co-opting them in the current version of ObamaCare – what is it, ObamaCare version 6.0 by now?), the higher prices paid by private insurance have been all that has allowed doctors and hospitals to continue to accept Medicare and Medicaid at a loss.

And so, what do you think will happen when Democrats cut the reimbursement rates?  People who have commons sense know: hospitals and doctors will begin to see fewer and fewer Medicare patients, as a matter of simple economic necessity.

That isn’t a “reform,” but a disaster.

And this stuff is why the dean of the Harvard Medical School gave ObamaCare a failing grade.  It’s why the California Medical Association recently came out strongly against the bill.  It’s why more and more state governors – Democrats as well as Republicans – are beginning to scream that ObamaCare merely turns Medicaid into a giant deficit-creating unfunded mandate on the states (again, to create the illusion of being “deficit neutral”).

Enough with illusions.  This bill is absolutely terrible.  It’s more than 2,000 pages long, nobody understands it, and it has changed again and again, yet actually seems to be getting worse and worse.

ObamaCare Is Cloward-Piven Strategy In Microcosm

December 11, 2009

First of all, what is the Cloward-Piven strategy:

From Discover The Networks:

First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse. [...]

The key to sparking this rebellion would be to expose the inadequacy of the welfare state. Cloward-Piven’s early promoters cited radical organizer Saul Alinsky as their inspiration. “Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules,” Alinsky wrote in his 1972 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judaeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system’s failure to “live up” to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist “rule book” with a socialist one.

Newsmax offers a further description of Clowar-Piven, and raises the very real possibility that Obama not only studied the strategy, but in fact even studied under Richard Cloward:

Their strategy to create political, financial, and social chaos that would result in revolution blended Alinsky concepts with their more aggressive efforts at bringing about a change in U.S. government. To achieve their revolutionary change, Cloward and Piven sought to use a cadre of aggressive organizers assisted by friendly newsmedia to force a re-distribution of the nation’s wealth. It would be telling to know if Obama, during his years at Columbia, had occasion to meet Cloward and study the Cloward-Piven Strategy.

On my own view, Obama has a “win we win, lose we win” strategy.  To wit, the Obama administration and the Democrat Party are pursuing incredibly risky policies across the board.  If the country and the economy somehow manages to survive these measures (which I would compare to a man surviving a poisoning), Obama and the Democrats will claim victory.  If, on the other hand, the entire national system collapses due to these shockingly terrible policies, the liberals believe that a terrified, hungry public will turn to the government for help – and allow the statists to restructure the nation into a completely socialist system.

The Obama administration, on my view, consists of a collective of fiscal sociopaths.  They don’t even care about the harm that they are doing, as long as they accomplish their self-serving objective of statism, in which they ultimately wield the levers of totalitarian power.

Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said that you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.  The very real question is how far these people are willing to go to milk a crisis to impose their agenda; and how willing they would be to create a crisis to finish the job.

Now armed with the above information about Cloward-Piven, and the above thesis that Obama and the Democrats are actually employing it, let us consider the Democrats’ and Obama’s attempt to take over the health care system.

Far too many Democrats want a socialist single-payer system, and liberals like Democrat Representative Anthony Weiner think the current Senate Democrat proposal is just the ticket to take us there:

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, an outspoken backer of the public option, hailed the expansion of Medicare as an “unvarnished” triumph for Democrats, like himself, who have been pushing for a single-payer government-run health care system. “Never mind the camel’s nose; we’ve got his head and his neck in the tent.”

The generally left-leaning Washington Post agrees with Rep. Weiner, saying that the

last-minute introduction of this idea within the broader context of health reform raises numerous questions — not least of which is whether this proposal is a far more dramatic step toward a single-payer system than lawmakers on either side realize. [...]

The irony of this late-breaking Medicare proposal is that it could be a bigger step toward a single-payer system than the milquetoast public option plans rejected by Senate moderates as too disruptive of the private market.

It is amazing that when the people overwhelmingly rejected the public option, Democrats responded by giving them the public option on steroids.

But let us take a look at who have aligned against this monstrosity, and see just how bad it truly is.

The Mayo Clinic:

“Expanding this system to persons 55 to 64 years old would ultimately hurt patients by accelerating the financial ruin of hospitals and doctors across the country. A majority of Medicare providers currently suffer great financial loss under the program. Mayo Clinic alone lost $840 million last year under Medicare. As a result of these types of losses, a growing number of providers have begun to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practices.  Despite these provider losses, Medicare has not curbed overall spending, especially after adjusting for benefits covered and the cost shift from Medicare to private insurance.  This is clearly an unsustainable model, and one that would be disastrous for our nation’s hospitals, doctors and eventually our patients if expanded to even more beneficiaries.”

The Wall Street Journal rightly calls this fiasco “The Worst Bill Ever.”  Why?

As Congress’s balance sheet drowns in trillions of dollars in new obligations, the political system will have no choice but to start making cost-minded decisions about which treatments patients are allowed to receive. Democrats can’t regulate their way out of the reality that we live in a world of finite resources and infinite wants. Once health care is nationalized, or mostly nationalized, medical rationing is inevitable—especially for the innovative high-cost technologies and drugs that are the future of medicine.

The Dean of the Harvard Medical School gave it a “failing grade.”  Dr. Jeffrey Flier argued that:

In effect, while the legislation would enhance access to insurance, the trade-off would be an accelerated crisis of health-care costs and perpetuation of the current dysfunctional system—now with many more participants. This will make an eventual solution even more difficult. Ultimately, our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all.

The California Medical Association came out strongly against the Democrat plan:

The state’s largest doctors group is opposing healthcare legislation being debated in the Senate this week, saying it would increase local healthcare costs and restrict access to care for elderly and low-income patients.

The California Medical Assn. represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, making it the second-largest state medical association in the country after Texas. [...]

“The Senate bill came so short that we could not support it, even though we solidly support healthcare reform,” said Dr. Dev GnanaDev, medical director at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in San Bernardino, who also serves on the association’s executive committee.

Doctors who oppose the Senate bill are concerned that it would would shift Medicare funding from urban to rural areas, move responsibility for Medicare oversight away from Congress by creating an Independent Medicare Commission and, ultimately, decrease Medicare reimbursement rates.

That “Independent Medicare Commission” is just one of the many “death panels” this bill would create.  One hundred and eleven death panels, to be precise.

This is “It’s-Friday-the-13th-and-Jason-Voorhees-is-a-real-monster-and-he’s-actually-in-your-house” terrifying.  The Democrats will collapse our health care system.  People will die.

And I submit to you that the Democrats want to crash the health care system – which is the best in the world after adjusting for murders, suicides, and accident deaths – and replace it with a socialized system that would dramatically expand the power and scope of government.

On top of the disastrous impact on patient care would be the disastrous impact on the national economy.  The health care system that the Senate Democrats would impose on Americans would cost at least $2.5 trillion every ten years following its initial roll-out.  How much more can we afford?  How many more cards can we add to our house before the whole thing comes crashing down?

Why would anybody want to impose a system that is so terribly bad, and which will cost so terribly much?

When you think of the trillions in spending that this administration has already accumulated, and then add the additional $200 billion a year (and $1,761 per family) cost of Obama’s cap-and-trade energy fiasco, you can’t help but begin to wonder if there is an intentional determination to overwhelm our system and “push society into crisis and economic collapse.”


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