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Mayo Clinic responds to investgation

20 March 2017, 10:44 | Winifred Adams

CC Flickr-Tripp Mayo Clinic building

Mayo will grant preference to privately insure patients over Medicaid  Medicare

Noseworthy said in a statement Friday that medical need will always be the top factor in scheduling an appointment. However, Noseworthy wanted the employees to apply discretion when two patients are referred with similar conditions.

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

Piper said it is unusual on the part of a hospital boss to openly promote the cause of privately insured patients at the expense of government funded patients.

Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said she was surprised and concerned by Noseworthy's earlier comments, and has questions about what they really mean and how Noseworthy's directive would be carried out.

Noseworthy declined via Mayo spokespeople to be interviewed for this story. "In fact, about half of the total services we provide are for patients who have government insurance, and we're committed to serving those patients". "After medical need, we consider if the patient can access the care they need closer to home and often work with their local provider to provide the highest level of care locally".

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His bold pronouncement, reported this week by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reflects the growing unease among hospital executives who are watching profits shrink due to steady increases in the number of government-insured patients. "This is what happens in many low-income countries".

"We're asking if the patient has commercial insurance, or they're Medicaid or Medicare patients and they're equal, that we prioritize the commercial insured patients enough so we can be financially strong at the end of the year to continue to advance our mission", Noseworthy said in the transcript. Mayo nonetheless remained profitable in 2016, with income of $475 million. He said the policy would only affect a small number of patients and it would not not apply to emergency care.

In his speech, Noseworthy said that Mayo had reached a "tipping point" with a recent 3.7 percent surge in Medicaid patients.

Baumgarten added that complaints about the rise in Medicaid patients should be tempered by the corresponding decline in uninsured patients. "The health system is organized to give the most affluent preference in receiving health care", he wrote. "Fundamentally, it's our expectation at DHS that Mayo Clinic will serve our enrollees in public programs on an equal standing with any other Minnesotan that walks in their door..."

The hospital hasn't considered policies that prioritize privately insured patients, though, said Dave Albright, HCMC's vice president of finance.



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