January 12, 2010
Physicians Nationwide React to Announcement that Mayo Clinic of Arizona Will Stop Accepting Medicare Patients
Cambridge, MA — SERMO, the world’s largest online community for physicians, today announced its weekly hot topic. 850 physicians participated in a SERMO post — including a discussion and online poll — about the Mayo Clinic of Arizona's plan to drop Medicare as a third-party payer for primary care in 2010. Mayo reported losses of $840 million from Medicare in 2009, a deciding factor in the decision. The discussion reflects growing concern among physicians that they will not be able to continue treating Medicare patients due to financial losses they incur from the program’s low reimbursement rates.
Many physicians on SERMO indicate they want to pursue a similar cash-only policy as Mayo has adopted. In fact, over 40% of the physicians polled feel the US government “never will” understand how declining reimbursement rates from Medicare negatively affect the care patients receive from their physicians. They fear reimbursements will continue to decline in the coming years, reducing patient access to physicians.
One Anesthesiologist reflected much of the sentiment from the conversation on SERMO about continuing to accept Medicare:
“If everyone is going to treat [medical practices as] a business, we must treat it like a business. If a contract does not pay enough we should not sign it. If we are in a contract that doesn't pay what we need to run our business we should get out.”
The discussion also reflects a fear that the federal and state governments will attempt to force participation in the program by tying state licensure to Medicare/Medicaid acceptance. According to one Gastroenterologist, “Only the naive thinks they can't force states to make licensure contingent on participation in Medicare or Medicaid.”
Finally, many physicians said that if forced to participate in a money-losing venture, they would seek alternative employment. This could further impact the predicted primary care physician shortage because as one Neurologist states, “You can try and force [us] to take patients for licensure, but in the end, you cannot force [us] to be doctors. If you start dictating from the federal level what patients we must see and what level we will be paid, physicians will simply find something else to do.”
To view the full discussion and polling results, visit the SERMO Blog at blog.SERMO.com. The SERMO Blog highlights the most vibrant physician discussions happening on SERMO and covers topics ranging from medical ethics & practice management to challenging clinical cases.
SERMO is the largest online physician-only community, where over 110,000 practicing physicians collaborate on cases and exchange observations about drugs, devices and clinical issues. Through a unique set of social media tools, SERMO provides access to its community for organizations that need fast, actionable MD insights. For more information, email insidesales@SERMO.com or visit www.SERMO.com/business-solutions.