doesn't bode well for Obamacare
All of the government-run health insurance in the world won't help if you can't find a doctor to treat you...which is happening more and more for Medicaid patients in Texas, 1200 WOAI news reports.
A survey by the Texas Medical Association shows that only 31% of Texas doctors, both specialists and general practitioners, are now accepting new patients who rely on Medicaid, which is the state run health insurance program fro the poor and disabled, and on Medicare, the program to provide health care coverage for people over 65.
That is down sharply from the last time the survey was taken in 2010, when 42% of Texas doctors were not accepting new Medicaid patients.
Doctors are also spurning new Medicare patients, only 42% of Texas doctors say they will accept a new patient who replies on Medicare, an all time low.
This comes at a time when Obamacare is set to add some 6 million new people to the Medicaid rolls.
Doctors say they can't handle the slow reimbursements from Medicaid, the low average reimbursement, and the fact that their Medicare payments are constantly changing.
There is also a concern about the growing amounts of red tape needed to be reimbursed by Medicare.
TMA President Dr. Michael Speer says the system is broken and must be fixed.
"The court gave the states flexibility on Medicaid expansion," Speer said. "We desperately need a better system of caring for Texas' large uninsured population. We need a local/state/federal partnership to design a fair and sustainable system. Top down mandates are not the answer."
Advocates for the poor say a failure of doctors to take on more Medicaid patients would be a loophole in the Affordable Care Act. They say unless Obamacare brings with it incentives for doctors to treat patients who are insured through the new system, there inevitably will be a 'black market' where some doctors are only interested in caring for patients who pay cash or have private insurance.
"Some years ago, we looked at expenses and income, and made the difficult decision to stop accepting Medicaid patients," said JOannie Parr, who manages the office of her husband, Dr. Thomas Parr. "Medicaid puts up so many hurdles we found it was easier to provide free care outright than hassle with Medicaid's bureauracy for basically no pay."