Letter: Options exist for Medicare patients



It’s painful to hear stories like that of the Gills, the Clark County couple profiled in the Aug. 15 story “Provider predicament: Medicare muddles search for a physician.”

The Gills struggled mightily to find a doctor willing to take new Medicare patients. Sadly, the Gills’ experience is common.

Many Northwest physicians have stopped accepting new Medicare patients, citing reimbursement rates that cover only half of what they would charge a privately insured patient. As reported, reimbursement rates are calculated regionally based on the cost to provide care in that area.

In the Northwest, those costs are lower, and so is the reimbursement rate.

So doctors in Washington and Oregon are in effect penalized for the efficiency of the care they provide, and Medicare patients are penalized along with them. Painful.

But there are options for folks like the Gills.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest is welcoming new Medicare members, and there will always be a doctor for them, supported by a full team of caregivers.

As senior director of Consumer plans and Exchanges, I can assure readers that Kaiser Permanente’s roots in the Northwest go back 66 years, and our commitment to Southwest Washington is as strong as ever.

That kind of stability is important today. America still has major issues to work through with regard to Medicare funding.

Daelene Schwartz