Bill seeks to sustain higher Medicaid payments
A new federal bill would extend the required Medicaid minimum payments for services provided by primary care physicians beyond 2014, when the enhanced payment rate is scheduled to expire under current law.
The Ensuring Access to Primary Care for Women and Children Act would continue the current requirement that Medicaid pay at rates no lower than Medicare for services provided by family physicians, general internists and pediatricians, as well for as ob-gyns who provide a significant volume of certain primary care services.
Earlier this month, the AMA sent a letter (AMA login required) of support to the bill sponsors, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
“Research studies have demonstrated that low Medicaid reimbursement rates can significantly affect a physician’s ability to accept new Medicaid patients into his or her practice,” the letter said. “These payment increases recognize the value of access to primary care services for Medicaid beneficiaries and the importance of adequate payment to physicians participating in Medicaid.”
Several states are unlikely to continue the increased payment if they have to finance it without federal support, according to state interviews conducted in 2012-2013. In addition, some states voiced concern that if the payment increase is discontinued in 2015, it may negatively impact efforts to recruit physicians to the Medicaid program.
“The AMA believes that all physicians seeing Medicaid patients should be paid at least the Medicare rate to ensure adequate access,” the letter said. “We believe this bill is an important step in that direction.”
Visit the AMA's Medicaid Payment Parity Web page to learn more about the bill and view its cosponsors in Congress.