The Affordable Care Act provides for raising the Medicaid reimbursement for primary care providers to parity with Medicare rates. The reimbursements for either program are problematic, but Medicaid reimbursements are especially so, since Medicaid patients – who are among the sickest, and among whom are many African American and Latino patients -would have nowhere else to turn if physicians refuse to participate in the program. Fewer physicians, simply translates into an increased number of sick people visiting emergency rooms who cannot afford their care. This would further drain state and federal coffers since society will have to pick up the tab.
Historically low Medicaid payment rates have prevented many primary care physicians from participating in the program. However, in most instances, our membership has provided care to these patients not because it was profitable, but because it was right. Increasing those reimbursement rates is long overdue. Without these adjustments, there will be a further reduction the number of primary care physicians willing to participate in the Medicaid program at the very time it is being expanded.
The NMA believes our nation is about to take significant steps in improving access to quality healthcare for the uninsured and the underinsured. If we do not invest in adequate support for primary care physicians to care for Medicaid patients, the improvements we expect in the health of all Americans will be jeopardized.