Health Reform Law Raises Hopes, Issues For Medicaid

Changes coming because of the health reform law could affect the delivery of care for Medicaid patients.

Kaiser Health News: "To ease the worries of already-strained primary care doctors, the new health law includes an increase in Medicaid payment rates, bringing them up to the same level as those from Medicare. That bump is expected to be pretty helpful when a huge chunk of the increase in insurance coverage under the law comes from expanding Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income Americans, to cover 16 million more people … The problem? Under the new law, the Medicaid raise may only last two years" (Mertens, 4/6).

Modern Healthcare: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke at a news conference Tuesday about the benefits for states that choose to implement a Medicaid expansion immediately. "Under this new proposal, individual states could immediately start to expand coverage to childless adults covered by Medicaid. … Under the plan, the federal government would reimburse 60 cents for every dollar spent on the expanded Medicaid population" (Lubell, DoBias, 4/6).

Earlier KHN story: Medicaid Expansion Now Could Save Some States Money (Weaver, 4/1)

The Associated Press: In Alabama, members of the Alabama Dental Association are accusing a nonprofit corporation of poor treatment of children on Medicaid. "The acrimony is similar to turf battles in other states as companies, rather than private dentists, step in to care for young people covered by Medicaid. The private offices typically take Medicaid patients, but advocates say there simply aren't enough dentists to treat the needy across the country. ... The conflicts, which have been brewing over a decade, could become more common with the passage of President Barack Obama's health care bill, which includes mandatory dental coverage for kids, said Meg Booth of the Washington-based advocacy group Children's Dental Health Project.

"A huge lack of access to dental care for the needy has fueled its growth, and the state's dental establishment is simply intimidated," according to an official at Sarrell Dental Center (Reeves, 4/7).

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