Mayo Clinic CEO: How to fix Medicare for patients

CEO calls for a payment system that rewards quality, value

In recent testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy proposed a Medicare payment system that rewards providers who deliver high-quality, efficient treatment across the care spectrum.

"Our health care system must be flexible and adaptable to the varying needs of patients," Noseworthy wrote in written testimony to the panel, which discussed health care quality on Wednesday. "We need to create new, negotiated payment models that tie reimbursement to patient-centered care and quality outcomes," he said.

Noseworthy commented on the "irony" of the current payment system, which he argued rewards physicians "who order unnecessary tests or perform more services" and penalizes those "who provide the most efficient care."

He called for an overhaul of the physician reimbursement system that recognizes the different types of care and rewards the quality and value of each, including primary, intermediate, and complex care. Specifically, Noseworthy asked that lawmakers consider an overhaul that includes:

  • A repeal of the current Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which is used to set payment rates for physicians in Medicare;
  • A one- to three-year transition update reimbursement schedule at no less than the Consumer Price Index; and
  • New payment models that reward quality, efficiency, and value-based outcomes.

"It is our hope 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," he wrote (Mayo Clinic release, 6/25).


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