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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 6, 2010 / 20 Teves 5770

Medicare and the Mayo Clinic

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | 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." A few months earlier, in a letter to Senator Max Baucus of Montana and the late Senator Ted Kennedy, the president had singled out the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic for praise. They "offer the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm," he wrote. "We need to learn from their successes and replicate those best practices across our country." On the White House web site, you can find more than a dozen other instances of Obama's esteem.

So perhaps the president will give some thought to the Mayo 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.

Letter from JWR publisher


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 specifically, a spokesman told Bloomberg, 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.

In breaking away from Medicare, the Mayo Clinic is hardly blazing a trail. Back in 2008, the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission reported that 29 percent of Medicare beneficiaries — more than 1 in 4 — have trouble finding a primary-care doctor to treat them. A survey by the Texas Medical Association that year found that only 38 percent of that state's primary-care physicians were accepting new Medicare patients.

But if you think things are bad now, just wait until Congress enacts the president's health care overhaul. A central element in both the House and Senate versions of ObamaCare is that Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and doctors — already so low that many providers lose money each time they treat a Medicare patient — will be forced lower still.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services, estimated last month that the Senate bill would squeeze $493 billion out of Medicare over the next 10 years. As a result, it cautioned, "providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and . . . might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries)." In short, the Democrats' idea of health-care reform — more government power to set prices, combined with reduced freedom for individuals — will only make medical care harder to come by: an Economics 101 lesson in the pitfalls of price controls.

Nearly six months ago, the Mayo Clinic tried to sound an alarm. Instead of making American health care better and more affordable, it warned, the legislation working its way through Congress "will do the opposite" and "the real losers will be the citizens of the United States."

Each year Medicare loses tens of billions of dollars to fraud and abuse. The program's long-term deficit is a staggering $38 trillion. Its expenditures have raced ahead of inflation from the day it was created: Medicare's price tag has skyrocketed from $3 billion in 1966 to an estimated $453 billion this year. Yet its reimbursement of medical providers is so meager that more and more of them cannot afford to treat Medicare patients. Whatever else Medicare might be, it is no model for rational reform.

Obama says he want the country to "learn from what Mayo is doing." What Mayo is doing is trying to provide high-quality medical care in the face of Washington's compulsively misguided interference. As 3,000 Mayo patients have just learned, government interference can hurt. Ratchet up that interference with ObamaCare, and the pain will only grow worse.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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