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States Battle Over Medicaid Eligibility

by Benjamin Domenech on June 16, 2011

Jim Angle reports on the battle emerging as states push back over the eligibility question:

Would you work for one third of what you’re usually paid because the government demanded it? That’s what doctors are asked to do in Medicaid, the joint state/federal health care program for the poor.

“One of the challenges for Medicaid is that the reimbursement levels for doctors are lower than they are for Medicare, that’s true across the country,” says Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank. And Medicare pays some 20 percent less than private insurance.

With Medicaid reimbursement so far below Medicare, access to care is endangered.

Virginia’s Republican Governor Robert McDonnell says, “You don’t want to undermine the quality of care for Medicaid patients because you have a shrinking number of doctors and hospitals that accept Medicaid.”

One of the oft-hidden truths about government-funded health care is that it is hard to get a doctor because they’re paid so little.

It’s not just being paid one-third — it’s that it takes longer, requires more work to comply, and the patient population typically has the most unexpected problems. All these factors serve to cut more and more doctors off and shrink access to even greater degrees for America’s Medicaid population.

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