Medicare Cuts Force Topeka Clinic to Deny New Patients

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

People who rely on Medicare for their health insurance may have a tougher time finding a doctor.

Effective Tuesday, primary care doctors at Stormont-Vail HealthCare's Cotton-O'Neil Clinics stopped taking new Medicare patients. Spokesperson Nancy Burkhardt says Stormont made the decision because Medicare reimbursements were cut 10.6 percent. She says Stormont simply can't make ends meet at the lower rate.

Cotton-O'Neil will continue providing care for their more than 42,000 current Medicare patients. Burkhardt says that if reimbursement rates are reinstated to previous levels, the system will resume taking new Medicare patients.

A measure to stop the cuts failed by a single vote in the U.S. Senate Thursday night. Lawmakers are expected to try to reinstate the reimbursements after their July 4th holiday break. Burkhardt says clinic receptionists are giving letters to patients, asking them to contact their lawmakers about the issue.

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, D-Kansas, says Medicare physicians haven't seen an increase since 2001, and now they're being cut. She says she never believed that would happen.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, also expressed disappointment. He says he urges his colleagues to put politics aside to pass this bill for seniors and health care providers.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, was the only member of the Kansas Congressional delegation to vote against the measure that would have stopped the cuts.

Topeka's St. Francis Health Center will continue taking new Medicare patients. Spokesperson Kim Gronniger says it's part of their mission.


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