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Mayo to cherry-pick patients with private insurance

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The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Mayo Clinic’s chief executive recently told his staff to prioritize patients with commercial insurance over those with Medicaid or Medicare when possible.

The announcement came during a speech Mayo CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., gave to employees. Mayo stressed that the announcement refers  to cases where patients may be able to receive comparable care elsewhere, and that the prestigious hospital system still uses medical need as the primary factor in its decision-making.

Mayo cited an estimated $1.8 billion in unpaid Medicare services and an increased number of Medicaid patients across the organization in 2016 as reasons for its move.

“We need to balance requests from these patients with their specific needs—if it’s necessary for them to come to Mayo—as well as the needs of commercial paying patients,” said Karl Oestreich, Mayo’s spokesman.

Dr. Noseworthy said a recent 3.7 percent increase in Medicaid patients was a “tipping point” for Mayo.

“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 so we’re looking for a really mild or modest change of a couple percentage points to shift that balance.”

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