A recent post by Compound Captive on Tucsoncitizen.com (April 15th) was a good example of the misinformation that is out there concerning the Health Care Reform Law and Medicare in general. Included in the post were several claims about Medicare that were incorrect. I replied to that post yesterday and thought it would make a good post for my own Medicare and More blog.
The main point of the Compound Captive post was that Mayo Clinics in Arizona are no longer accepting Medicare patients. This is incorrect. On January 5th, the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Blog corrected the misconception and misinformation that had been widely reported. Here is the first part of the Mayo Health Policy Blog post:
Mayo Clinic in Arizona Continues to Provide Care for Thousands of Medicare Patients
Some recent media reports have inaccurately stated that Mayo Clinic in Arizona is no longer seeing any Medicare patients. This is not true.
Rather, a five-physician Mayo Clinic Arizona family practice clinic in Glendale, Ariz., has opted out of Medicare as part of a Mayo Clinic time-limited trial that will be reviewed at its conclusion. This means that Medicare will no longer reimburse Mayo Clinic for primary care services at this specific primary care facility, not at Mayo Clinic in Arizona overall. This affects only primary care office visits for the five Mayo family practice physicians at this site. Specialty care, laboratory services, imaging studies and ancillary services at Mayo Clinic are still covered by Medicare. Current Medicare patients may continue receiving primary care at the Glendale clinic but will be required to pay out-of-pocket for office visits. ( see http://healthpolicyblog.mayoclinic.org/2010/01/05/medicare-and-mayo-clinic-in-arizona/ )
In a previous post on this Medicare and More blog, I reported that under the Health Care Reform Law, primary doctors will get a 10% increase in their Medicare payments. Across the country, it is primary care doctors who are limiting the number of Medicare patients in their practices. The Heath Care Reform Law addresses this problem.
Compound Captive wrote in his blog that “a year ago federal officials confirmed that fraud, waste and abuse was habitual in several specific areas of Medicare, but to date have taken no action to fix these known problems”. In fact, the The Health Care Reform Law commits the government to finding and prosecuting Medicare fraud. Under the law, funding will be increased to expand efforts to find and prosecute Medicare fraud. Medicare will double the number of investigative offices it has across the country so the agency will have the people and resources to address this serious problem. No other administration has taken such an aggressive approach to fighting fraud and abuse in the Medicare system.
Compound Captive also wrote that the Medicare “program’s reimbursement to medical providers is so slow…“ This is absolutely incorrect. In fact, Medicare pays claims as quickly as or faster than insurance companies. I have heard this from many sources, but just last week I had a conversation with my own doctor about Medicare. This doctor is a specialist and he doesn’t like the Health Care Reform Law, but he told me that Medicare pays claims quickly and consistently. He also told me stories about insurance companies and how they delay payment for months by rejecting claims and requiring doctors to submit more and more paperwork. This doctor doesn’t like the new law, but he doesn’t like insurance companies either. He did say that insurance companies pay from 10% to 20% more than Medicare for the same procedure – but Medicare doesn’t deny claims and delay payment, so doctors at least know they can count on timely payment from Medicare.
The many myths about Medicare and the Health Care Reform Law are repeated so often that it is difficult for people to know what is true and what is false. Compound Captive got it wrong on just about all the points in his April 15th post.