Medicaid Expansion Could Exacerbate Doctor Shortage

As more people gain access to coverage as a result of the health law's expansion of the state-federal insurance program for the poor, finding doctors willing to treat them may be a challenge. Other stories look at how Americans in similar circumstances face vastly different health coverage options because of where they live. That's because half the states opted against the health law's expansion of Medicaid.

The New York Times: Medicaid Growth Could Aggravate Doctor Shortage
Dr. Ted Mazer is one of the few ear, nose and throat specialists in [the San Diego] region who treat low-income people on Medicaid, so many of his patients travel long distances to see him. But now, as California’s Medicaid program is preparing for a major expansion under President Obama’s health care law, Dr. Mazer says he cannot accept additional patients under the government insurance program for a simple reason: It does not pay enough (Goodnough, 11/28).

The Fiscal Times: Doctor Shortage Could Rise Under Medicaid Expansion
Only 25 states and the District of Columbia have signed on so far, however, as Republican governors and GOP-dominated state legislatures in most of the remaining states have opted out of the expanded program – either to protest Obamacare in general or out of fear that their states may end up having to pay a much larger share of the expanded Medicaid costs than the Obama administration promised. The result is a disturbingly stark dual system health care system determined largely by where people live and the political leanings of their home states. Now there’s an even more challenging problem: Qualifying for expanded Medicaid coverage is one thing; finding a doctor who will even accept new Medicaid patients is another (Pianin, 12/1).

Louisville Courier-Journal: Medicaid Expansion: A Case Of The Kentucky ‘Haves’ And The Indiana ‘Have-Nots’
Lorinda Fox of New Albany, Ind., hasn’t been to a doctor since her last child was born 21 years ago. Poor and uninsured, she treats her illnesses with over-the-counter remedies. ... If Fox lived in Kentucky, she would qualify for expanded Medicaid next year under the Affordable Care Act. But she lives in a state where she makes too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid, and politicians have chosen not to expand Medicaid as Obamacare intended, contending that Indiana taxpayers can’t afford it. Her predicament reveals an irony in the way Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion has played out: Residents in similar circumstances face vastly different health coverage options, depending on which side of the Ohio River they live (Ungar, 12/1).

Detroit Free Press: Eligible For Medicaid? Many In Michigan Face Bureaucratic Confusion
Across Michigan, hundreds of thousands of residents who may be eligible for the state’s Medicaid expansion remain in frustrating, bureaucratic limbo — one that could push arguably affordable coverage out of their reach if they don’t get answers soon. Those residents won’t know for sure until next year whether they’re eligible for an expanded Medicaid under the health reform law. But for many, it could be too late to access tax credits now to make policies more affordable on the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, or state exchange (Erb, 12/2).

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