Access To Health Care Is Threatened With Roll-out Of Medicaid

Published December 31, 2014

It wasn’t my cup of Arabica that was making me edgy. It was the fact that my dad’s a doctor that had me going through the following news feature.

Through Medicaid, millions of Americans are gaining insurance. But as they do so, the Obama administration-backed program which is set to make payment cuts to many doctors prompted some physicians and other advocates to voice out warnings that the reductions could spell difficulty in getting adequate care for Medicaid patients.

For primary care in 2013 and 2014, The Affordable Care Act actually allowed a big increase in payments of Medicaid. The bad news is that these payments are set to expire at year’s end. (Source : The New York Times)

The impact of this situation will vary by state. A non-partisan research group known as the Urban Institute says doctors and other providers of medical care who have been enjoying the increased payments will now see a cut of 43% in their fees for primary care.

Co-author of this report, Stephen Zuckerman, a health economist connected with the Urban Institute said the drop in Medicaid payments could be as dramatic as 50% or more in the states of California, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida, among others.

Dr. David A. Fleming, the president of the American College of Physicians which is the representative group of internal medicine specialists said some patients are likely to have reduced access to care. He added that it made no sense to slash Medicaid payments at this time when enrolment into the program is at a high.

A family doctor from Turnersville, New Jersey, regarded the whole process of the increased payments initially and the now slashed payments as an enticement for the doctors to get into Medicaid and then lowered the boom once the doctors are involved.

But a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Human Services which is responsible for running the Medicaid program said the increased payments were never intended to be permanent and that New Jersey will not get any time extension for these.

In his March 2014 budget, President Obama had requested for a one year extension of the higher Medicaid payments, but such legislation was seen as facing long odds since both houses of Congress are Republican-controlled.

The administration declared that Medicaid is contributing to the “largest coverage gains in four decades” with an additional 9.7 million people now into the fold of Medicaid for a total of 68.5 million Americans. (Source : The White house.gov)

I showed my dad the news item. He shrugs his shoulders, goes to the kitchen and gets his own Arabica.

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