Mayo Clinic gets a local examination

Since I complained earlier this week about the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press not covering the Mayo Clinic’s heath care reform lobbying efforts, I must note the Strib’s Kevin Diaz did that today. Front page, top of the fold.

Good nuts-and-bolts stuff, with contribution levels ($500,000-plus) and a figure on how much Mayo lost treating Medicare patients last year ($785 million). I might’ve put a finer point on the healers’ opposition to a government-run public option, since that is a major decision facing governing Democrats, and found it odd that no one was quoted blantantly criticizing the palm-greasing or Mayo’s positions.

The story also covered bigger players, such as United Health. It would’ve been nice, at least on the web side, to list who Mayo and UHC gave to, and also our congresspeople’s hauls from the industry. The latter should almost be a recurring element alongside these stories.

That said, Diaz includes an extremely telling quote from ex-insurance company executive Robert Laszewski, who notes that insurers will get up to $800 billion in federal subsidies but “there is nothing in any of the bills that would change the way any of the health plans manage health care.”

Providers are often at odds with insurers; I wonder how Mayo feels about that.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schmitz on 09/25/2009 - 11:02 pm.

    Didn’t seem to me to be much of a story on Mayo. What does losing 785M mean, how many patients caused that loss, would the system have been treating others at full pay if not seeing medicare patients
    Did all medicare patients cause losses or just some, how many insurance patients were money losers.
    The ability of a source to throw out this kind of fact and have it printed without further elaboration or exploration mystifies me.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/28/2009 - 09:31 am.

    About that $780 mil loss. You can’t trust these figures. I’ve worked in two hospitals and they’re always claiming that they’re losing money when they’re not. You have to find out if that $780 is an “actual” loss, or if it’s simply the difference between what was billed and what was paid. Providers over-charge in order to compensate for the difference between what’s billed and what’s paid. The only people paying full price are people with no insurance at all. Private insurers also negotiate discounts, and pay percentage of the bill (always less than 100%). You’ll notice providers never “complain” about the money their “losing” to private insurers, you never see those figures. Providers often complain that Medicare payments are less than private insurers, but it can be an apple and oranges comparison by the time you get done with negotiated discounts and other incentives offered to big private insurers.

    I think it’s probably true that providers make less from Medicare, but their all charging too much for treatment in the first place. The inescapable fact of this health care crises is that if we’re going to control and reduce costs, we going to have to pay less for health care, we’re currently paying too much. Of course the providers are going to fight that tooth and nail. The fact that providers are so uniform in their opposition to a government or single payer plan tells that it’s the best way to control costs.

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