• Minnesota

    Mayo Clinic: Medicare Payment Overhaul Must Recognize Varying Needs of Patients

ROCHESTER, Minn. — On any given day at Mayo Clinic, patient care ranges from the simple to the complex. One person may come in for a blood pressure checkup; another, new knees. A third may need cutting-edge therapies, complicated care from several specialists, diagnosis of a mysterious illness — or all of the above. As Congress turns its attention to Medicare's payment system, it must recognize the full spectrum of care and reward providers who deliver high-quality, efficient care across that spectrum, Mayo Clinic president and CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., says in testimony to the Senate Finance Committee.

MULTIMEDIA ALERT: Video resources of Dr. John Noseworthy will be available on Wednesday on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

"Our health care system must be flexible and adaptable to the varying needs of patients," Dr. Noseworthy says in written testimony to the committee, which was holding a hearing Wednesday on health care quality. "We propose creation of a Medicare payment system that recognizes the different types of care and rewards the quality and value of each, whether primary, intermediate or complex care."

Mayo Clinic is recognized for high-quality patient care more often than any other academic medical center in the nation. Through its Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery and other efforts across its medical practice, Mayo continually works to improve efficiency and quality, saving millions of dollars each year.

"One irony of the current Medicare payment system is that physicians who provide the most
efficient care are penalized, while those who order unnecessary tests or perform more services are paid more," Dr. Noseworthy says. "We need to create new, negotiated payment models that tie reimbursement to patient-centered care and quality outcomes along the spectrum of care."

Mayo Clinic proposes an overhaul of the Medicare payment system that includes:

  • Repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate, the formula that determines Medicare physician payments. Its original intent was to better control the volume of physician services and costs, but it hasn't done so.
  • A one- to three-year transitional update reimbursement schedule at no less than the Consumer Price Index.
  • New payment models that reward value-based outcomes, quality and efficient medical practices.

"It is our hope that for patients, providers and the long-term sustainability of Medicare, all options will be examined with the goal of ensuring that this program is there for our grandchildren and beyond," Dr. Noseworthy says.

The testimony to the Senate Finance Committee is an extension of Mayo's submissions to other panels looking at the issue: the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

To interview Dr. Noseworthy, please contact Sharon Theimer in Mayo Clinic Public Affairs at 507-284-5005 or newsbureau@mayo.edu.