Mayo Clinic CEO walks back comments on prioritizing privately insured patients

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Piper said DHS will also take a look at its contracts with the Mayo Clinic, as well as investigate complaints made by Medicaid patients and their "dissatisfactory service at the Mayo".

"Patient medical need will always be the primary factor in determining and setting an appointment".

The reported move of Mayo Clinic to stamp its preference on patients with commercial insurance has triggered a strong reaction from senior health officials who dubbed the action as disconcerting.

John Noseworthy's comments were made late a year ago in a videotaped speech to staff but surfaced only this week after a transcript of his speech was obtained by the Star Tribune newspaper.

The authenticity of the video has been confirmed by Mayo.

Dr. John Noseworthy issued a press release late Friday saying that he regrets that the wording he used caused confusion about the hospital's commitment to serving patients with government insurance.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has launched a review of Rochester, Minn. -based Mayo Clinic for possible violations of civil and human rights laws.

Meanwhile, the Mayo staffers invited the commissioner for a discussion. The clinic said it provided $629.7 million in care to people in need in 2016, including $546.4 million that wasn't covered by Medicaid or other programs for the uninsured or underinsured. "If we don't grow the commercially insured patients, we won't have income at the end of the year to pay our staff, pay the pensions, and so on", he said. "To fund its research and education mission, Mayo needs to support its commercial insurance patient numbers in order to continue to subsidize the care of patients whose insurance does not cover the cost of their care". The clinic's statement claimed that Medicare and Medicaid still constituted 50 percent of the total services. "We have a lot of questions for Mayo Clinic about how and if and through what process this directive from Dr. Noseworthy is being implemented across their health system".

Arguments from the other side of the debate suggest that, even if Medicaid patients have less access and experience worse outcomes than privately insured patients, the public health plan is still better than no health plan at all.

The Mayo policy would not affect emergency room care, because federal law requires hospitals to treat patients who show up with urgent needs.

"So I can imagine when they. sit down at their computer scheduling system to see when the first opening is available for a nephrology consultation", he said, "and if they have two requests, maybe they give the first opening to the guy with good medical insurance and maybe they say, 'Well, for the person with Medicaid, for you it's not two months, it's four months before we have our next opening.'?"



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