Report: 70 Percent of California Doctors Not Participating in Exchanges

Sunday, 08 Dec 2013 01:46 PM

By Greg Richter

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Seventy percent of California doctors are refusing to participate in the state's health insurance exchange, reports the Washington Examiner.

Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association, told the Examiner that the rates being offered are so low it isn't economically feasible for doctors to sign up.

"(W)e can’t do it for free. And we can’t do it at a loss. No other business would do that,” Thorp said.

Many doctors' names were included as providers in networks without their permission. Independent insurance brokers back up the 70 percent nonparticipation rate cited by the CMA.

Covered California, the state's exchange, is claiming a doctor participation rate of up 85 percent, but Dr. Theodore M. Mazer, past president of the San Diego Medical Society, said those numbers are not true. That figure was published in May before many doctors had a chance to respond to a memorandum of understanding from insurance companies. That memorandum did not include reimbursement rates, which caused many to balk at signing up.

Once reimbursement figures were shared with doctors in September, the numbers were not to their liking. Covered California tied its rate of pay to Medicaid figures. And it California, that means $24 for a return office visit. Other states pay $76.

With Obamacare bringing a rise in demand for medical services, the lack of doctors providing those services could spell a looming crisis of heathcare in the state. Some doctors are considering retiring.

California's troubles are unlikely to be seen in other states, notes The American Thinker, because California's extremely low reimbursement rates aren't seen elsewhere. But there is talk, the website says, of forcing doctors to care for patients.

"(I)t's unclear whether states have the authority to force physicians to care for anyone," The Thinker says. "But it shows the level of desperation among Obamacare supporters that they would even consider such a draconian step."

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