When Obamacare was implemented, it provided a way for states to expand Medicaid coverage to more people. Under the expansion, it is reported that an additional 9.7 million Americans joined the Medicaid program, swelling the number to 68.5 million. That means that approximately one in every five Americans is enrolled in Medicaid.
One of the many problems with expanding the system was getting enough doctors to agree to see Medicaid patients. To accomplish that, the Democrats built in a plan to increase the payments made to primary care doctors who treated Medicaid patients in 2013 and 2014.
That increased payment to primary care doctors will expire at midnight on December 31 and at the moment there is no plan to extend it. Earlier this year Obama’s proposed budget called for a one year extension to the increased physician payments, but that provision was never passed. That was largely due to the fact that Republicans wanted to see spending cuts made to provide the funds for the extension but the Democrats just wanted to raise taxes and increase our national debt. Therefore the likelihood of the 2015 Republican controlled Congress passing an extension of the Medicaid payments to doctors is not looking very optimistic.
So what does this mean to doctors and to the several million who recently enrolled in the Medicaid expansion?
According to a study conducted by the nonpartisan research group Urban Institute, it means that many primary care physicians are going to see their government payments for treating Medicaid patients drop by an average of 43%. In states such as California, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, the cut in Medicaid payments to doctors will most likely reach 50% and possible more.
Some doctors are reacting to the news in a negative manner. Dr. George Petrunico, a Turnersville, New Jersey family physician referred to the enhanced payment program as a bait and switch maneuver, stating:
“The government attempted to entice physicians into Medicaid with higher rates, then lowers reimbursement once the doctors are involved.”
However, it appears that once the enhanced payment is gone that many doctors will reduce the number of Medicaid patients they will treat as reported in the New York Times:
“A survey by the Ohio State Medical Association found that some Ohio doctors began accepting Medicaid patients because of the rate increase in 2013. Ohio doctors who were already participating in the program said they had accepted more Medicaid patients after the rate increase. And almost 40 percent of Ohio doctors indicated that they planned to accept fewer Medicaid patients when the extra payments lapsed.”
So once again we see another failure within Obama’s national socialist medical program. Millions more people are signing up for coverage under Medicaid but they are going to find it harder to find doctors who are willing to treat them. Finding it harder to get the medical help they are expecting will cause many to realize just how bad Obama’s system really is.