Access To Doctors Focus Of New Medicaid Proposal
In an effort to make it easier for people with disabilities and others to access doctors, federal regulators are proposing a new rule that would make it harder for states to cut Medicaid payments to providers.
The proposal, which will be published Friday in the Federal Register, is designed to put more clout behind the expectation that those who receive Medicaid have comparable access to health care as others in their geographic area, federal officials say.
Already, Medicaid recipients frequently have trouble finding providers willing to treat them because of low reimbursement rates from the program. And the problem is likely to become worse as many states deal with significant budget shortfalls and struggle to contain rapidly rising Medicaid costs.
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“The proposed rule does not set a national standard or mandate any particular payment level,” said Cindy Mann, who oversees Medicaid for the federal government. “Rather, it proposes a standardized, transparent process for states to ensure that the millions of pregnant women, children, seniors and people with disabilities that they cover in Medicaid have access to the care they need.”
Specifically, under the proposed rule states would not be able to cut reimbursement rates to doctors and hospitals unless they could show that such a change would not impact patients’ access to care.
As part of this effort, states would be required to solicit feedback from Medicaid recipients about their ability to access doctors, among other measures.
“We believe the meeting of enrollee needs should be the primary driver to determine whether access to care is sufficient,” federal officials wrote in the proposal, which is up for public comment through July 5.