Buried in the Affordable Care Act was what seemed a sweet deal for doctors willing to treat Medicaid patients: an estimated 70 percent pay boost.
There was a good reason for it. The law was adding millions of people to the health insurance program for the poor, at a time when fewer doctors would sign on because it pays them so little.
But this well-intentioned, two-year bump hasn’t been such a boon for every physician willing to work with Medicaid, a program that manages to be both critical safety net and political tangle.
Some, like Palm Harbor physician Esther Browne-King, are still chasing after private managed care companies for their money. Others, like Hollywood obstetrician and gynecologist Aaron Elkin, find federal regulations are shutting them out of the raise.
And even those benefiting from the increase fear what will happen when it ends in December. Wesley Chapel pediatrician Jose Jimenez is serving more poor kids now with the extra money. So he’s among many hoping for the unlikely: That the state will find the money to keep the higher rates going.
As for the goal of increasing physician participation? Many doctors say they don’t know anyone who is accepting Medicaid solely because of the temporary hike.
“Just doing a two year patch … probably isn’t enough,” said Dr. Bruce Flareau, president of BayCare Physician Partners.
Doctors “have been holding back saying, ‘What’s the sustainability of that reimbursement?’ ” Read more.