During the next month, doctors who care for Kentucky's 500,000 Medicaid patients will be paid some $52 million by the state.
After the administration of former Gov. Brereton Jones slashed Medicaid spending more than two years ago, the Kentucky Medical Association filed suit.
A negotiated settlement of the lawsuit was made final in September and the $52 million in payments to doctors that was cut is being restored. Doctors also will be reimbursed for money they lost while the cuts were in effect.
The payments to doctors are part of a $104 million settlement.
The $52 million in reimbursements cover the period from July 1, 1995, to June 30, 1996, said Barbara Hadley Smith, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services.
The reimbursements to individual doctors are tabulated according to the amounts they billed the Medicaid program during the period, Smith said. A doctor, for example, who billed for 1% of the total amount Medicaid paid to doctors for 1995-1996 would receive 1% of the $52 million.
Unisys, a computer company that handles billings for the state Medicaid program, is notifying doctors of the settlement, and individual payments are going to them. The state hopes to complete the payment distribution by the end of January, Smith said.
Physicians probably won't get back all the money they lost as a result of the original reduction, said KMA attorney Michael Kronin. That's because the reimbursements will be proportionally distributed to doctors, he added.
The Jones administration said the Medicaid cuts were necessary to slow the skyrocketing costs of the program, which provides healthcare for poor Kentuckians.
At the time of the cuts, in the fall of 1994, the Jones administration said Medicaid payments to doctors had increased 208% during the previous five years while the number of Kentuckians eligible to receive Medicaid services increased by 52%.