Tuesday, May 25, 2010

But what good is health care coverage if patients can’t find a suitable doctor?

In my last entry, I talked about my company’s latest research paper that shows how we can save $366 billion in Medicaid spending. What’s great is that a portion of these savings could be reinvested in primary care, resulting in better access to high-quality care for newly covered populations and underserved communities.
Ensuring primary care availability is a major concern for states and physicians. According to one of our national surveys, 67 percent of primary care physicians think that the new Medicaid patients will struggle to find a suitable primary care doctor.

But the same survey finds that alongside other policy reforms, states could increase the number of primary care physicians treating Medicaid patients by permanently raising reimbursements to at least match those of Medicare. Our research suggests actively managing the health care of Medicaid enrollees and then recycling some of those savings to strengthen primary care is a better solution to states’ budget pressures than continuing to artificially depress Medicaid provider reimbursements, which in turn affects patients’ ability to find a primary care doctor.

People who are eligible for Medicaid need access to top quality health care, so we must find a way to strengthen primary and community care services. Many states are already taking important steps in this direction, now we just need to build on those innovations across the country.

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