Healthcare Business News

Medical-homes access at risk for Medicaid patients: family docs

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: December 12, 2012 - 12:30 pm ET

Eliminating a planned temporary Medicaid payment increase for primary care would stymie the expansion of patient-centered medical homes, a family-physicians group leader warned lawmakers this week.

President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law provides for the temporary increase in Medicaid pay for primary-care services. Cutting this increase as part of an effort to reduce the federal deficit would make it more difficult for patients to connect with medical homes, which focus on prevention and coordinated care, wrote Dr. Glen Stream, board chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

In a letter (PDF) to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Stream wrote that such a move would force patients to rely on "expensive, episodic, acute-care services provided in other settings," such as hospital emergency departments.

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The AAFP voiced its concerns as pressure builds for federal lawmakers to hammer out a deal to avert the fiscal cliff by year's end and to structure a larger framework that will reduce the country's budget deficit. In his letter, Stream mapped out five priorities the AAFP would like to see addressed during deficit-reduction negotiations.

Replacing the flawed sustainable-growth rate formula, Stream wrote, is the AAFP's biggest concern. Other priorities for the group are maintaining current funding for graduate medical education, halting across-the-board spending reductions slated for early next year as a part of the Budget Control Act's sequestration process, and keeping in place the health insurance subsidies for individuals and small businesses that will buy health plans through a state or federal health insurance exchange.

An AAFP spokeswoman said the organization sent a similar letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

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