States that increase Medicaid payments also keep docs in place

Getting a large swath of providers to accept Medicaid has always been a challenge, but some states have apparently found a solution: Pay them more money.

Fifteen states have experimented with keeping all or part of the increased fees paid to physicians to treat Medicaid patients under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The result is success in growing the pool of willing and available providers, Kaiser Health News reported.

The ACA calls for the additional fees to ensure a stable pool of providers for an increased Medicaid population under the healthcare reform law. However, the funding mostly ran out after the first two years, causing many states to fall back to the old Medicaid provider rates.

But Indiana--perhaps the reddest state to expand Medicaid--has invested some $40 million in additional payments to its providers, using money from a cigarette tax and a pending tax on hospitals to finance the cost. It increased its network by 335 physicians and by more than 600 nurse practitioners and physician assistants. In Colorado, the ongoing bump in payments means the provider network expanded by about 100 per month, state health officials told Kaiser Health News.

The choice is stark, as Medicaid payments for primary care services will likely drop by an average of 47 percent this year in states that decided not to continue the increased payments. In Rhode Island, the drop is even more drastic: a decrease of 67 percent, the highest in the country.

In New Jersey, which has one of the lowest Medicaid payment rates to doctors while having one of the highest costs of living, only about 38 percent of its doctors participate in the program and accept patients, NJ.com reported.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- check out the NJ.com article

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