In this Boston Globe article, Jeff Jacoby discusses a recent Mayo Clinic decision to stop seeing Medicare patients.
PRESIDENT OBAMA is a great admirer of the Mayo Clinic. Time and again he has extolled it as an outstanding model of health care excellence and efficiency.
“Look at what the Mayo Clinic is able to do,’’ the president proclaimed at a rally in September. “It’s got the best quality and the lowest cost of just about any system in the country. . . . We want to help the whole country learn from what Mayo is doing.’’
I agree. Let’s learn something from what the Mayo Clinic is doing.
So perhaps the president will give some thought to the clinic’s recent decision to stop accepting Medicare payments at its primary care facility in Glendale, Ariz. More than 3,000 patients will have to start paying cash if they wish to continue being seen by doctors at the clinic; those unable or unwilling to do so must look for new physicians. For now, Mayo is limiting the change in policy to its Glendale facility. But it may be just a matter of time before it drops Medicare at its other facilities in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota as well.
Why would an institution renowned for providing health care of “the best quality and the lowest cost’’ choose to sever its ties with the government’s flagship single-payer insurance program? Because the relationship is one it can’t afford. Last year, the Mayo Clinic lost $840 million on its Medicare patients. At the Glendale clinic, a Mayo spokesman told Bloomberg News, Medicare reimbursements covered only 50 percent of the cost of treating elderly primary-care patients. Not even the leanest, most efficient medical organization can keep doing business with a program that compels it to eat half its costs.
Those that advocate for single-payer, Medicare for all type delivery of medical care tout the wonders of expanded access if only everyone was covered under such a program. Just try asking those 3,000 Arizona seniors that can no longer see their doctor or get treated at their area’s leading medical clinic about “access.”
Now imagine if this situation was broadened to the whole system. How many more doctors would quit or hospitals shutter their doors because they can no longer afford to operate due to governmental efforts to “cut costs”? It’s easy for many to fall prey to the fallacy that having some sort of insurance coverage equates to access to medical care.
Most advocates of single payer medical care know that their policies will result in more patients chasing fewer doctors and hospital beds, resulting in excrutiatingly long wait times accompanied by more pain and suffering. They don’t care.
All they care about is their authoritarian utopia in which the ruling class is empowered to micromanage society, forcing some to sacrifice for the unearned benefit of others – all the while subjecting everyone (except the politically-connected, of course) to an equally miserable system of poor-quality, rationed medical care.