A new study reveals that nearly one-third of doctors nationwide are unwilling to accept new Medicaid patients.
The reason is that the government doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of treating them. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary, Medicaid physicians were paid only 58 percent of what private insurance paid in 2008.
The new study illustrates the correlation between Medicaid provider reimbursement and patient acceptance rates, stating that “acceptance rates of new Medicaid patients were higher in states with higher Medicaid-Medicare fee-for-service fee ratios. On average, a ten-percentage-point increase in fee ratio raised the acceptance of new Medicaid patients by four percentage points.”
Obamacare attempts to remedy this problem by increasing Medicaid payment rates for primary care to match those of Medicare. The study suggests that this may help increase access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries. However, the pay increases are temporary. After 2014, either Medicaid physicians will take a huge pay cut or taxpayers will be asked to step up and maintain the increased rates.
The increased payment rates are scheduled to disappear the year after Obamacare asks—rather than requires (thanks to the Supreme Court decision)—states to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The Congressional Budget Office projects that, even if some states opt out of the expansion, 11 million more Americans will be added into Medicaid by 2022, making access to care even more scarce.
A Medicaid expansion will offer health coverage, but that is far different from being able to receive health care. With such a severe access problem already existing in today’s Medicaid program—and getting worse under Obamacare—this is yet another reason states should reject an Obamacare Medicaid expansion and hold out for real health care reform.
To read about health care reform that would put patients first, click here.