Mayo Clinic CEO: Medicare, Medicaid patients get same care as business leaders

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, MD, provided clarification on the health system's admission practices during a speech at an Economic Club of Minnesota event on Wednesday.

Mayo and Dr. Noseworthy have garnered increased attention from the media and from the public after a March 15 Minneapolis Star Tribune report revealed he told caregivers to "prioritize" patients with private insurance over Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in a videotaped speech late last year.

"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, advance our mission," Dr. Noseworthy said in the videotaped speech, according to the report.

Dr. Noseworthy backtracked from that policy statement at the start of his 30-minute speech to Minnesota business leaders on Wednesday.

"Medical need, urgency and complexity is the primary factor in making an appointment to the Mayo Clinic," he said, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Publicly insured patients "are and will continue to be scheduled exactly the same way as patients with commercial insurance," he said. "Government-insured patients get the same care as the business leader in the next room." 

After news surfaced last week of Dr. Noseworthy's remarks in the videotaped speech, the Minnesota Department of Human Services launched a review of Mayo Clinic for possible violations of civil and human rights laws. On Wednesday, Dr. Noseworthy said Mayo has discussed the issue with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Gov. Mark Dayton and assured them that Mayo's policies comply with state and federal requirements, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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