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Health Team

Medicare cuts threaten rural dialysis centers

Posted September 5, 2013

Willa Harris suffers from kidney failure. Most of her life depends on regular treatments at Wake Nephrology’s dialysis center in Raleigh.

“I've been coming to dialysis for 8 years presently. I'm on the transplant list,” said Harris.

Dr. Michael Casey works with Wake Nephrology which operates 16 dialysis clinics in Wake, Harnett and Johnson counties – serving about 800 patients.

Casey said about 85 percent of the patients of his clinics are on Medicare. That limits the profit providers can make from dialysis. Casey says Wake Nephrology gets about a 3 to 4 percent profit margin from Medicare patients.

Willa Harris Dialysis centers could see cuts

That forces a hard decision on providers, one that Casey said most patients are not aware of.

”A lot of our clinics are just barely breaking even,” he said. If they were to start losing money, they may be forced to close. Casey says the rural clinics with a lower patient population could be the first to go. Facilities may also have to cut back on staff positions and certain service, like overnight dialysis.

“It's just a very difficult thing because these are the sickest of the sick and they require a lot of resources and services,” said Casey.

Harris believes she'll always be able to get her services at the north Raleigh clinic, but she is concerned for others who might have to travel further for treatments.

9 Comments

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  • lsdhome Sep 11, 2013

    After reading the article and some of the learned comments below, I'm confused. Are these dialysis centers funded by Medicare or by Medicaid? They ain't the same, you know.

  • icdmbpppl Sep 9, 2013

    "Just give Granny an aspirin" said Obama, and that is all we should expect within a few years after this monstrous healthcare bill takes hold.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 9, 2013

    "this has the potential of being a death sentence to some"

    Yep and it is exactly WHAT so-called Universal Health Care will bring you. Consider the fact that Government CAN NOT adequately pay for the subset of Americans covered under Medicaid and Medicare. Now bump that up to ALL Americans. At that point EITHER they have to tax all of us out of existence or strictly control payments and of course more and more people, particularly older people will be denied treatment.

    Obama once told a lady that "her mother might not get the surgery, she might instead just get the pain pill." One of the few times he was not lying about Government controlled health care.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 9, 2013

    "Cut the number of people allowed to have Medicad, cut the amount the doctors are given from Medicare and this is what you get. We are to blame. We complain about government when we should be complaining about politics. The insurance compnay and drug company lobbist in Washington and Raleigh have helped create this mess. You get what you vote for, plain and simple. People on another WRAL comment blog are all up in arms about what BCBS's insurance costs will be. All of this is 100% politically and greed motivated!"

    No it is not. If you provide a product or service and the government UNDERPAYS you for that product, you then pass costs along to the private payer. that drives up the private payer and migrates into the public system and becomes a cycle. Want to fix it? Get rid of Medicaid and Medicare and in addition ObamaCare. We will then see demand and supply level off. Government is causing this problem not the providers or the private insurance companies.

  • noel Sep 6, 2013

    davidk_at_unc - I beleive you have confused Medicare and Medicaid. They are NOT the same. Medicare is not run by NC so the NC GA has nothing to do with Medicare cuts. Most patients with chronic kidney failure eventually qualify for Medicare. They may also qualify for Medicare if their income is low enough.

  • Sally1023 Sep 6, 2013

    Cut the number of people allowed to have Medicad, cut the amount the doctors are given from Medicare and this is what you get. We are to blame. We complain about government when we should be complaining about politics. The insurance compnay and drug company lobbist in Washington and Raleigh have helped create this mess. You get what you vote for, plain and simple. People on another WRAL comment blog are all up in arms about what BCBS's insurance costs will be. All of this is 100% politically and greed motivated!

  • davidk_at_unc Sep 6, 2013

    "Nowhere in the article does it talk about Medicare cuts. Typcial WRAL adding their spin." -- BigOski

    Are you referring to the Medicare cuts imposed by the NC GA?

  • Scubagirl Sep 6, 2013

    this has the potential of being a death sentence to some

  • BigOski Sep 6, 2013

    Nowhere in the article does it talk about Medicare cuts.
    Typcial WRAL adding their spin.