Who Will Treat Those New Medicaid Patients From the Obamacare Exchanges?

MedicaidHealth care providers are showing a certain lack
of enthusiasm about the Affordable Care Act. Because of low
reimbursement and bureaucratic headaches, both state and national
surveys showing physicians
unenthusiastic about seeing patients who get coverage through the
Obamacare exchanges
. And that’s for private insurance.
But Healthcare.gov and the state exchanges have been more
successful so far at signing people up for Medicaid than private
plans—and many Medicaid patients are already having trouble finding
doctors. So…Who is going to see these new Medicaid enrollees?

When it
announced the underwhelming Obamacare enrollment figures
to-date on November 13, the department of Health and Human Services
said that 106,185 people had “selected a Marketplace Plan,” but
that 396,261 persons had been “determined or assessed eligible for
Medicaid/CHIP” (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

That’s a problem. A
2012 survey
(PDF) by Jackson Healthcare, a medical staffing
company, found that, while 64 percent of physicians nationally are
taking new Medicaid patients, “A majority of physicians across many
specialties said they could no longer afford to accept new Medicaid
patients due to declining reimbursements. States where physicians
were least likely to accept new Medicaid patients were New Jersey,
California and Florida.”

In fact, last week, the Courier-Post, a south New
Jersey paper, reported that Medicaid patients in that state may be
signed up for medical care, but they’re
having serious problems finding providers

Midway through her third pregnancy, Grace Ewing spotted a
disturbing notice on the counter at her obstetrician’s office.

Her Advocare doctor could no longer accept the UnitedHealthcare
Community Plan as of Oct. 1, since the Medicaid managed care
organization terminated its contract with the provider network.

Like 25,000 other Advocare patients in New Jersey, the practice
told her she would have to find a new provider — and quickly.

But it was no easy task. For the next several weeks, the
28-year-old called obstetricians listed on the managed care
company’s website. She wanted to find a female doctor within a
reasonable distance from her Bellmawr home, who could deliver her
baby at Virtua.One office worker after another told her the same
thing: “We used to accept it, but we don’t anymore.” …

Nearly 1.3 million New Jerseyans — about 15 percent of the
state’s population — are enrolled in Medicaid, most through plans
administered by four managed care organizations.The number of
people covered by NJ FamilyCare is expected to swell next year, as
an additional 300,000 uninsured residents will be eligible for free
coverage, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The article adds that 54 percent of doctors in the state don’t
take take new Medicaid patients. Not surprisingly, low
reimbursement is cited as a major reason. There is already a doctor
shortage before the expected influx of new Medicaid

None of this should be a surprise. Physician dissatisfaction
with Medicaid is not a new proble, Pharmacies, too, were
refusing Medicaid
years ago
because of rock-bottom reimbursement. Soon after the
Affordable Care Act passed, health experts
pointed to Medicaid as a major vulnerability
in the
law—coverage without providers is no coverage at all.

And yet… Here we are.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/25/who-will-treat-those-new-medicaid-patien

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