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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Professionalism and Caring for Medicaid Patients — The 5% Commitment?

Today's post was shared by NEJM and comes from www.nejm.org

Interview with Prof. Sara Rosenbaum on the health care safety net, Medicaid expansion, and access to care.
Interview with Prof. Sara Rosenbaum on the health care safety net, Medicaid expansion, and access to care.
Medicaid is an important federal–state partnership that provides health insurance for more than one fifth of the U.S. population — 73 million low-income people in 2012. The Affordable Care Act will expand Medicaid coverage to millions more. But 30% of office-based physicians do not accept new Medicaid patients, and in some specialties, the rate of nonacceptance is much higher — for example, 40% in orthopedics, 44% in general internal medicine, 45% in dermatology, and 56% in psychiatry.1 Physicians practicing in higher-income areas are less likely to accept new Medicaid patients.2 Physicians who do accept new Medicaid patients may use various techniques to severely limit their number — for example, one study of 289 pediatric specialty clinics showed that in the 34% of these clinics that accepted new Medicaid patients, the average waiting time for an appointment was 22 days longer for children on Medicaid than for privately insured children.3
Physicians have good reasons for not accepting Medicaid patients, as I learned from direct experience as a member of a nine-physician primary care practice in California. We accepted Medicaid patients, but it was difficult. Medicaid's payment rate was very low — we lost money on each Medicaid visit. When referrals were necessary, we often had to personally ask specialists to accept our patient....
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