Nearly two-thirds of surveyed doctors in Michigan's largest medical group accept Medicaid patients, a drop from nearly 90% six years ago, a survey shows.
In 1999, 88% of doctors participated in Medicaid; 77% took part in 2001 and 65% in January, according to the 14,000-member Michigan State Medical Society. The group sent the survey to about 9,400 practicing doctors, and about 1,000 responded -- a similar number to previous surveys.
John MacKeigan, M.D., immediate past president of the medical society and a Grand Rapids colorectal surgeon, said doctors have been supporting Medicaid out of their own pockets for decades.
"Reimbursement is not sufficient to even cover costs," he told Booth Newspapers Thursday. Medicaid reimburses doctors for 30% to 40% of their customary charge, said Paul Reinhart, the state's Medicaid director.
Advocates for the poor say the decreasing number of doctors who accept Medicaid patients is hurting Michigan's Medicaid population -- which now is at 1.4 million, or one of every seven residents.
"It really does compromise access," said Sharon Parks of the Michigan League for Human Services. "It's one thing to have Medicaid coverage and quite another to actually have access to healthcare through the Medicaid system."
State payments to doctors taking Medicaid patients were cut 4% for the last half of the 2005 budget year ending Sept. 30 to help make up for shortfalls in the $7.5 billion Medicaid budget.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has proposed extending the 4% rate cut for the 2006 budget, which is still being negotiated by lawmakers.
Granholm also is proposing that Michigan begin charging a tax on physicians' gross receipts. She says most doctors will benefit because the additional federal dollars will let the state pay them more for treating Medicaid patients.
But doctors complain that by taxing gross receipts instead of income, doctors with high overhead, such as specialists with expensive equipment, would be taxed more than those with low overhead.