KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Arizona Clinic Stops Accepting Medicare, Some Penn. Medicare Advantage Plans Cancelled

The Arizona Republic reports: "One of the Mayo Clinic's two family-medicine practices in Arizona soon will stop accepting Medicare, leaving thousands of patients to pay out of pocket for routine doctor's visits or find a new physician." The changes go in effect on Jan. 1 and apply to primary-care services at the Mayo Clinic Family Medicine-Arrowhead. "Hospital officials called the new policy a 'two-year pilot program' and said Thursday that the changes are necessary because of low Medicare reimbursement rates." According to R. Scott Gorman, vice chairman of the executive-operations team at Mayo Clinic of Arizona, "Medicare reimbursement rates have remained stagnant over the past decade, while inflation for medical services has increased 4 percent to 8 percent annually." Patients at Arrowhead were given names of other family-care doctors who accepted Medicare, should they decide to change physicians, said Gorman (Rough, 10/9).

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: "Aetna Inc. has advised 8,500 area customers that it will terminate two of its Medicare Advantage plans at the end of this year. Independence Blue Cross has given the same notices to 44,000 individual subscribers who depend on four plans it offers. Other insurers in other markets are also making cuts. Meanwhile, area offices for the aging are being swamped with calls as worried senior citizens try to figure out whether their plans are affected."

"With Congress looking to Medicare savings to bankroll its plans for health reform, insurers around the country that sell Medicare Advantage plans are cutting back their offerings for 2010, saying federal reimbursements are too small. Reimbursements for Medicare Advantage plans will be down 4 percent, the insurers said, even as medical costs for doctors and hospitals continue to increase. ... Nationally, 24.2 percent of the 45.5 million people who qualify for Medicare use Medicare Advantage plans" (Bergen, 10/9).


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.