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Vital Signs

The Healthcare Business Blog

Nebraska, Washington join 33 other states in making Medicaid parity payments

By Andis Robeznieks

Nebraska and Washington have moved into the full-parity payment column for Medicaid, meaning primary-care providers in those states are being reimbursed for services provided to Medicaid patients at Medicare levels. That brings to 35 the number of states making the parity payments.

If the CMS is keeping track of where states stand in the two-year program, established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they are not revealing that information to the media.

The American Academy of Family Physicians took on the thankless task of tracking 100 moving targets and surveyed individual states' progress on implementing Medicaid fee-for-service and managed-care parity payments.

The survey, released earlier this month, indicated that Nebraska hadn't made parity payments of any kind and that Washington was only doing so for fee-for-service. But Jina Ragland, advocacy and regulation director of the Nebraska Medical Association, reported that the 1,520 physicians who attested as primary-care providers in her state began having their fee-for-service payments processed on Sept. 30. She said processing of managed-care payments began in either July or August depending on the private plan doctors were working with.

Beth Luce, spokeswoman for the Washington State Health Care Authority, said her agency began paying private plans for Medicaid managed-care services on Sept. 27. Plans then had 45 days to reimburse providers and should have done so between Oct. 15 and Nov. 8.

The parity program was effective Jan. 1, 2013, but the CMS didn't release its final rule until November 2012 so no states were ready to implement the pay increase at the beginning of the year. States—at least the 35 that are in the full-implementation column—are or will be making retroactive payments from Jan. 1.

Primary-care providers will receive the parity payments through Dec. 31, 2014. The AAFP has been pushing to make the program permanent.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks

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