Even the New York Times has started to notice that Medicaid’s access problems are about to get even worse. Robert Pear reports on the imminent expiration of the Affordable Care Act’s temporary Medicaid payment increase. Though the ACA provided federal money to reimburse for Medicaid patients at the same rate as Medicare, that provision stops on Thursday. In may states, that expiration is going to be extremely disruptive:
The impact will vary by state, but a study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research organization, estimates that doctors who have been receiving the enhanced payments will see their fees for primary care cut by 43 percent, on average.
Stephen Zuckerman, a health economist at the Urban Institute and co-author of the report, said Medicaid payments for primary care services could drop by 50 percent or more in California, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, among other states.
What this means is that Medicaid reimbursement rates will plummet just as the program is adding many new people to its rolls—9.7 million, as a matter of fact. Doctors will close their doors to Medicaid patients in favor of people with better insurance, and the Medicaid expansion, a center-piece of the ACA, will in practice mean little to those patients who face serious access problems. With even the New York Times noting this, the Obama administration and ACA supporters should no longer be able to get away with sweeping the access question under the rug.