It's battling studies time. In one corner is the Center for Studying Health System Change, which is reporting that decreasing Medicaid reimbursement rates are causing providers to turn away more and more Medicaid patients. According to the Center, in the mid-1990s, 19.5 percent of doctors weren't accepting Medicaid patients; that number has climbed to 21 percent in the last several years. Physicians and health officials have previously expressed concern that doctors might be more reluctant to accept Medicare patients as well. On the other side, meanwhile, is the General Accounting Office, whose recent report found that reimbursement has little impact on beneficiaries' access to doctors. Considering that Medicaid reimbursements are 31 percent less than the already low Medicare rates, it stands to reason that many doctors could be reluctant to accept these patients.
However, the bottom line is that the evidence isn't clear just how reluctant doctors are, or what drives them into or away from the Medicaid arena. After all, MDs must make complicated choices as to how they run their business, and straight up-and-down pay rates are just one factor. For example, what if most of the patients who have access to their offices are on Medicaid? What would be really interesting would be a study which analyzes which factors best predict whether doctors will accept Medicaid. Now that could be helpful to policymakers *and* doctors.
- check out this AP report for details