A temporary program in President Obama’s health care law expired with the dawn of the new year. To improve access for the poor, the law increased Medicaid fees for front-line primary care doctors of low-income patients for the years 2013 and 2014, with Washington (read ‘taxpayers’) paying the full cost. This means these doctors are facing fee reductions of 40 percent or so nation-wide in 2015. Meager pay for doctors has long been a problem for Medicaid, the safety-net health insurance program that covers more than 60 million people. Low income people unable to find a family doctor flood hospital emergency rooms, instead.
Doctors in big or populous states that have expanded Medicaid under the health law may see their fees cut by 50 percent or more. These states include California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. This is at the precise time when millions of new patients are gaining Medicaid coverage. Do you think access to these doctors will be squeezed? I doubt many new doctors will want to participate in this program in the future.
‘Experts’ claim that most doctors won’t dump their current Medicaid patients, but will certainly be very hesitant to accept any new ones.
Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell, on the other hand, said that expanding Medicaid in the remaining 23 states is one of her top priorities.
Good luck with those waiting periods. Patients might go in needing pediatric care and end up needing geriatric care by the time they are actually treated.
We’ll have given new meaning to the phrase, “killing time.”
Obama, heal thyself.