2 weeks shy of Medicaid cuts puts doctors on edge

Posted in Berita

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Source: WBRC

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - In just two weeks, doctors across the state could see a cut in funding that may leave you without a doctor.

Medicaid funding has been on the chopping table for some time now. But come Aug. 1, if there's no special session, those cuts will affect physicians who offer the assistance in their practice.

One of those doctors is pediatrician Dr. Ken Elmer. Nearly 50 percent of his patients depend on Medicaid.

For families who can't afford insurance, it allows them what Dr. Elmer refers to as a "medical home".

"The idea of the improvements in the Medicaid program was to create a medical home for children. It would be far better if children have a regular doctor that they go to and they're getting their regular checkups when they have a cold, when they have a minor illness they can come in the office,” Elmer.

“It's much less expensive, hopefully, less things get done to them than when they go into the emergency room and nobody knows who it is,” Dr. Elmer continued.

Early Wednesday, Governor Robert Bentley said there is about a $15,000,000 dollar Medicaid gap.

The Alabama Medicaid Agency commented earlier this month that come Aug. 1, the first major cut would discontinue enhanced payments to primary care physicians.

"If there's no special session, then doctor's seeing Medicaid patients for sick visits will be reimbursed about 30 percent less than we have been and our margin is smaller than that,” said Dr. Elmer.

Dr. Elmer said rural doctors would feel the hit the most.

With the potential of closing a practice altogether because a majority of their clients are Medicaid based.

Dr. Elmer said another hurdle would be the increase of patients at emergency rooms and health clinics, establishments known to accept Medicaid. Both of which, Dr. Elmer said are already stretched thin.

There has been talk about a special session but Wednesday Bentley told reporters there are no definite plans to hold one -- though he's not ruling it out.

He did add, he is weighing options to solve the Medicaid deficit.

Source: WBRC

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