|Andy Pasternak, a family doctor in Reno, Nev., has seen more than 100 new Medicaid patients this year after the state expanded the insurance program under the Affordable Care Act.|
But he won’t be taking any new ones after Dec. 31. That’s when the law’s two-year pay raise for primary care doctors like him who see Medicaid patients expires, resulting in fee reductions of 43 percent on average across the country, according to the nonpartisan Urban Institute.
“I don’t want to do this,” Pasternak said about his refusal to see more Medicaid patients next year. But when the temporary pay raise goes away, he and other Nevada doctors will see their fees drop from $75 on average to less than $50 for routine office visits.
“We will lose money when they come to the office,” he said.
Experts fear other doctors will respond the same way as Pasternak, making it harder for millions of poor Americans to find doctors. The pay raise was intended to entice more physicians to treat patients as the program expanded in many states. In the last year, Medicaid enrollment grew by almost 10 million and now covers more than 68 million people nationwide.
The challenge is to convince physicians not just to continue accepting such patients but to take on more without getting paid what they’re used to, said Dr. J. Mario Molina, CEO of Molina Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest Medicaid insurers.
Charles Duarte, CEO of a large community...