On December 31, the higher reimbursement rates provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, will be brought to a halt. A new study shows that doctors would see their fees for primary health care services drop by nearly 45 percent or more.
The new cuts would result in fewer doctors willing to accept new Medicaid patients and poorer access to basic health care for people already enrolled in the program. Since 2013, when ACA started providing higher rates to doctors for accepting Medicaid patients, 9.7 million low-income Americans enrolled in the Medicaid insurance program.
Dr. George J. Petruncio, one of the health care providers taking part in the Medicaid program, said that the upcoming Medicaid cuts were a “bait and switch” move.
“The government attempted to entice physicians into Medicaid with higher rates, then lowers reimbursement once the doctors are involved,”
Dr. Petruncio also said.
Dr. Pasternak, a family doctor in Nevada, said that he wasn’t planning to accept new Medicaid patients in 2015. He also said that when his rates would drop from $75 to $50 per visit, he would start losing money every time a Medicaid patient got into his office.
In 2013 and 2014, the Affordable Care Act granted all health care providers Medicaid reimbursement rates equal to Medicare rates. Medicare fees are more than 40 percent higher than Medicaid ones. So, it would be rather difficult for physicians to adapt to lower fees, especially when many of them chose to accept poorer patients due to the higher rates.
A new study conducted by the Urban Institute also shows that in states such as California, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania the Medicaid rates could decrease by more than 50 percent.
Only five states chose to continue providing doctors with higher fees for primary medical services using their own funding sources – Maryland, Mississippi, Colorado, Iowa and Alabama. Connecticut will also maintain the higher rates except for primary care services performed in state hospitals.
Earlier this year, president Obama requested Congress to extend higher Medicaid rates for one more year. Although some Democrats supported the idea, the proposal wasn’t enacted. However, currently with Republicans controlling both houses there’s no chance the proposal would turn into a law.
Dr. David A. Fleming, chief of the American College of Physicians, said that the move made no sense at a time when so many people were enrolling in the Medicaid program.
The Obama administration said that Medicaid helped more than 68 million Americans get medical coverage generating the “largest coverage gains in four decades.”
Image Source: BU Today