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AK clinics focused on Medicare patients making a difference

Anchorage Daily News, August 29, 2011
In South Anchorage, a new kind of medical center is trying to make it financially based on payments from Medicare -- the federal health insurance for people 65 and older, that many doctors shun. Most primary care doctors in Anchorage won't take new Medicare patients because they say the reimbursement rates are set too low, and they lose money. But at the recently opened Alaska Medicare Clinic you have to have a Medicare card to get in. Or be nearly old enough to get one. The clinic intends to hold down costs by relying on teams of registered nurses and medical aides to spend more time with patients, reserving final decisions for the one doctor, Bob Thomas, MD. When the clinic is at capacity, the idea is Thomas will see 45 patients a day -- at least double the number most primary care doctors see. "It's this way of doing things that we think will allow the clinic to work on Medicare," said George Rhyneer, MD, a retired cardiologist who spearheaded creation of the clinic, a nonprofit organization.

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