Obamacare Could Kill Services for Some Medicaid Recipients

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 12:32 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Current Medicaid recipients may be shut out of some key preventive services because Obamacare treats newly eligible and existing beneficiaries differently, according to two new studies released Monday.

Some new Medicaid patients could also have trouble finding a primary care physician, Politico reports.

Researchers for Health Affairs determined that most state Medicaid programs do not cover all preventive measures for adults, including such things as mammograms and cholesterol tests.

However, Obamacare requires most insurance plans, including Medicaid, to cover all preventive services for new enrollees, meaning new beneficiaries will receive services that existing ones may not, the Health Affairs researchers reported.

"Access to preventive care is especially important for Medicaid enrollees, who are more likely than those who are privately insured to be in poor health, have a chronic condition and have work limitations because of poor health," the report said.

Some states already cover preventive services required by the law, but on different levels, reports Politico.

Wellness visits, for example, are covered in 34 states under traditional Medicaid, the study found, but Medicaid programs in only two states, Maine and Nevada, cover all preventive services required under Obamacare.

A second Health Affairs study indicates some Medicaid patients may have difficulty finding a doctor, depending on how many physicians decide to accept Medicaid recipients under Obamacare.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about one-third of the nation's doctor's in 2011 and 2012, did not accept Medicaid patients because the program typically pays lower reimbursement rates than private insurance companies or Medicare.

The Health Affairs study found that enrollees in Alabama, California, Michigan, and New Jersey have the hardest time finding a primary care doctor, and that psychiatrists, dermatologists, and internists are least likely to accept new Medicaid patients.

Obamacare does include an increase in rates for doctors who treat Medicaid recipients but other problems, such as administrative and logistical issues, could keep doctors from accepting them. Complicating matters even further is the fact that the payment hike for doctors is only temporary.

In West Virginia, where about 183,000 residents are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, officials are concerned about what will happen when the number of enrollees balloons to 277,000 when the program is expanded under Obamacare.

Evan Jenkins, executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association, told the Charleston Daily Mail the increase likely will cause problems because many doctors will limit the number of new Medicaid patients they accept.

"A lot of folks will dedicate a certain number of patient slots for Medicaid," Jenkins said. "When those are filled, they don't take any new patients."


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