Noteworthy News

Enough Docs to Go Around?

With nine million people expected to enroll in Medicaid in the coming year, questions are arising about whether there will be enough physicians to serve them.

Across the country there has long been a shortage of physicians, and especially specialists, willing to serve Medicaid patients because of how poorly most state Medicaid programs pay those doctors.  Now, with more people than ever expected to become insured by Medicaid, it is not clear whether the existing physician pool will be able to serve them very effectively.

Happy medical team of doctors togetherThe Affordable Care Act anticipated this problem and included a two-year increase in Medicaid payments to physicians, a move designed to raise Medicaid rates to the same level as those paid by Medicare.  But states have been slow to make these payments, which were expected to begin last January, and physicians recognize that this will only be a temporary raise.  As a result, fewer physicians than expected have agreed to serve Medicaid patients.

This could pose a major challenge to many of the nation’s private, non-profit urban safety-net hospitals because they serve communities where the increase in Medicaid enrollment could be especially great.

How will this affect the Affordable Care Act’s goal of bringing health care to more people?  Will having health insurance mean having access to medical care?  See this New York Times article for a look at these and other questions related to the upcoming Medicaid expansion and the ability of the medical community to meet an unprecedented demand for care.

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