Noteworthy News

Will Medicaid Coverage Mean Access?

With many states preparing to expand their Medicaid programs and enroll unprecedented numbers of new people, it is not clear whether Medicaid coverage will lead to access to care.

That concern arises in the wake of a survey that found that only 43 percent of physicians accept Medicaid patients.  Other providers, moreover, may not be up to filling the gap:  the same survey found that only 20 percent of physician assistants and nurse practitioners serve Medicaid patients.

Thus, while more people than ever will have health insurance once the Medicaid expansion component of the Affordable Care Act takes effect, it is not clear whether those who find themselves newly insured will have reasonable access to medical services.

While the Affordable Care Act attempts to anticipate this challenge by raising the traditionally low fees that Medicare pays primary care physicians to the same level as those paid by Medicare for the next two years, it is not clear whether this new policy is working and if will have a lasting impact after the two-year experiment ends.

This is an important issue for the nation’s urban safety-net hospitals, which expect to see significant numbers of new Medicaid patients in communities located in states that are expanding their Medicaid programs.

Read more about the survey and its implications in this Healthcare Finance News reportiStock_000015640638XSmall.

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