Doctors Will Face Medicaid Cuts As Fee Boost Ends

Primary care doctors caring for Medicaid patients may see steep fee cuts next year as a temporary program in the health law expires, reducing access for millions of new patients. A new study from the Urban Institute estimates fee reductions will average about 40 percent nationwide, but could reach 50 percent or more for primary care doctors in certain states. These states include California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois-all states that have expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Low pay for doctors is an issue for Medicaid because it reduces access to primary care for low-income patients.  In 2013 and 2014, the ACA increased Medicaid fees for primary care doctors in order to increase access. However, the boost is set to expire on January 1, and any efforts to extend it do not look promising. Experts say most doctors will not have to stop seeing their current Medicaid patients, but it may affect them accepting new ones. Despite the uncertain future of fee increases, fifteen states are planning to use their own money to continue to pay higher Medicaid feeds through 2015.

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