Plan to Open Medicare Treatment
Public and Private Partnership
on Innovative Plan to Open Needed Clinic
February 16, 2010
Anchorage, Alaska - Senator Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, announced
Friday that he and other Alaska legislators will put money in
this year's budget to help a coalition of medical professionals
and non-profit corporations create an innovative clinic in Anchorage
to serve Medicare recipients.
"There are more than 26,000 Medicare recipients in the greater
Anchorage area, and, because of a lack of certain kinds of doctors,
as well as low Medicare reimbursement rates, a significant number
of them have a difficult time finding a primary care physician,"
said Senator Meyer. "I have been working for several years
now to bring together a broad coalition of public and private
entities to create a new clinic to address this problem."
Senator Meyer explained that a lack of internists, family practice
doctors, combined with low reimbursement rates paid by Medicare,
have left a lot of Alaskans without the primary care they need.
By 2014, the number of Medicare recipients is expected to increase
40% to over 36,000.
Dr. George Rhyneer, an Anchorage cardiologist, has been spearheading
an effort to open a clinic for years.
"This concept came to some other physicians and me a few
years ago as a possible solution to the Medicare access problem,
which didn't seem to be amenable to federal repair," said
Dr. Rhyneer. "We hired a company to put together a business
plan to see if it would pencil out financially. We now have
a business plan in hand that shows that, if we operate efficiently
and provide high quality care, we can begin to be self-supporting
by the third year of operation. We just need financing to get
The feasibility study concluded the clinic was financially viable
as a non-profit company. However, said Dr. Rhyneer, it will
need start-up capital in the amount of $1.7 million. This will
be enough to rent space in Anchorage, set up and staff the clinic,
and operate it for the first two years. From the start, said
Senator Meyer, it was clear that both public and private sector
participation would be required for success.
"I appreciate the bottom line business approach, with private
sector buy-in, of Dr. Rhyneer and the others who have put this
project together to solve a serious problem for our seniors,"
said Representative Bill Stoltze, co-chairman of the House Finance
"Representative Stoltze and I will be championing this issue
to make certain the needed funds are included in this year's
capital budget," said Representative Mike Hawker, the other
co-chair of the House Finance Committee. "I think this
is a huge opportunity both to succeed, set ourselves as a national
example and build a model that will be copied across the country
in years to come."
For the last two years, a group called ACCESS has been working
with Senator Meyer on this endeavor. ACCESS is a non-profit
corporation, comprised of the Alaska Physicians and Surgeons,
the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, Providence
Health and Services Alaska, and the Alaska State Medical Association.
Due to the low reimbursements from Medicare, the clinic will
use a 'high efficiency' model and be staffed by one physician,
three nurse practitioners, and several medical support personnel.
The operational plan for this
clinic was designed by a number of active Anchorage physicians
who are experienced in general outpatient medical practice.
The overall mission of the clinic is to institute a new way of
staffing and organizing a clinic to take advantage of the highest
function levels of each practitioner while at the same time offering
quality care for identified acute and chronic medical problems
in the Medicare population in Anchorage.
In September of 2009 the Alaska Medicare Clinic, a 501(c) 3 corporation,
was formed to begin raising money for the clinic.
"Dr. Rhyneer and his group have done a pretty good job raising
money in the private sector, but they still need more. Depending
on how much they can raise in the next few months, they are asking
the legislature for a state grant of up to a million dollars,"
said Senator Meyer. "The group also contacted Senator Lisa
Murkowski, and her office told me yesterday that the Senator
wants to help out with this concept, so we're hopeful that she
will be able to get us as much as five hundred thousand dollars."
Dr. Rhyneer said that, if the funding comes through this spring,
they hope to be able to start providing care to Medicare recipients
by the end of this summer.
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