Mayo Clinic Turns Away Medicare, Medicaid Patients

Hospital praised for efficiency treats increasingly wealthy population
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2009 7:44 AM CDT
President Barack Obama gestures as he praises the Mayo Clinic of Minnesota as he addressed a health care reform rally, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009, at Target Center in Minneapolis.   (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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(Newser) – The Mayo Clinic, which has gotten plaudits from the White House for its low spending on Medicare and Medicaid patients, is turning some of those patients away. The clinic will stop accepting Medicaid patients from Nebraska or Montana at its main Rochester, Minnesota, campus, and will no longer offer primary care to Medicare patients at its Florida facility, it announced last week. Mayo calls the moves “business decisions” in response to government underpayments.

Mayo’s been lobbying Congress for preferential treatment for hospitals like it that spend less on Medicare, but the moves fuel critics who say that the its numbers look good because it treats fewer poor patients. Even before this move, the Minnesota facility treated substantially fewer Medicaid patients than comparable facilities—5% compared to 29% at Rochester’s other hospital. These moves, skeptics say, will make its client base wealthier still.