The article “How the Affordable Care Act is measuring up” [Local News, April 20] alludes to the fact that the Medicaid payment gap for primary-care providers hasn’t caught up with us yet.
The rate ended in January, but providers are still receiving the enhanced rate as payments are processed for services delivered in 2014. It’s a situation that’s bound to catch up with us and impact patient access to care, health outcomes and, ultimately, will cost the state money.
Physicians are committed to caring for our state’s residents. We’re not going to turn away Medicaid patients the day that the fair rates end. But as the months stretch by, the economic feasibility of accepting more Medicaid patients will become clear for some physicians.
Physicians are indeed anticipating changes: A 2014 survey in Washington found that nearly three-quarters of primary-care physicians (excluding those in large health-care organizations) would stop, limit or reduce the number of Medicaid patients they accept if the fair Medicaid payments cease. Washington is beginning to see these impacts now and more are likely to come, particularly in rural areas where they may already be a provider shortage.
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It’s imperative that the Legislature maintain the fair Medicaid reimbursement for primary-care services to maintain access to health care for Washington’s families with Medicaid.
Brian Seppi, president of the Washington State Medical Association, Spokane