Doctors Accept Fewer Medicaid Beneficiaries
Fewer physicians are accepting Medicaid beneficiaries as new patients, in part because they say that reimbursements are too low and because of "administrative hassles," according to a study from the Center for Studying Health System Change, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. The study, which compared surveys of physicians from 1996-1997 and 2004-2005, shows that 29% of solo practice physicians in the earlier survey accepted no new Medicaid patients, compared with 35.3% of solo practice physicians in 2004-2005.
The study finds a similar trend for small group practices, where the percentage of doctors declining new Medicaid patients grew from 16.2% in 1996-1997 to 24% in 2004-2005 (AP/Long Island Newsday, 8/17)). Overall, 12.9% of physicians reported receiving no Medicaid revenue in 1996-1997, compared with 14.6% in 2004-2005 (HSC release, 8/17).
Officials say the biggest reason for these findings is low Medicaid reimbursements, which are on average 69% of what Medicare pays and even lower than what private insurers pay, according to AP/Newsday (AP/Long Island Newsday, 8/17). According to the survey, 84% of physicians who did not accept new Medicaid patients in 2004-2005 said reimbursements were a factor; 70% of physicians said billing requirements and paperwork were a factor; and two-thirds said delayed payments were a factor (HSC release, 8/17).
J. Edward Hill, immediate past president of the American Medical Association, said, "This unsettling data comes as little surprise given Medicaid's high administrative costs and low payment rates, while the overhead costs associated with practicing medicine continue to increase" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 8/17).