Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt announced yesterday that he plans to increase funding for Mo HealthNet, the states Medicaid program, by $52.8 million. This increase would help raise physician fees for services to Medicaid patients to about 65% of the payment level doctors receive for treating Medicare patients.
Were happy about it, but its not the complete package, said Missouri State Medical Association Director of Government Relations Tom Holloway. The goal for the past several years has been to get physician fees up to Medicare levels.
He explained that, currently, for every dollar Medicare pays physicians, Mo HealthNet pays only 55 cents for the same service.
Blunts plan calls for the state providing roughly an additional $20 million and, when combined with the federal governments 60% share of funding, it would push the increase past $50 million. This increase would be on top of last years increase in funding in which the state kicked in an additional $25 million that was then leveraged to a $66.1 million increase after the federal share was added.
Jan Carter, special assistant to the Missouri Department of Social Services director, said the increase will be added to the $465 million projected for physician fee-for-service reimbursement for fiscal 2009, which runs July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009. She added, however, that a portion of the increase would also help pay for physician services under Mo HealthNets managed-care program.
Whatever the split turns out to be, Holloway said the increase is a key ingredient for improving access to healthcare services for the states lower-income residents.
Doctors literally lose a lot of money when they see Medicaid patientswhich theyre willing to do, Holloway said. But, with the paperwork and administrative overhead, it (costs them more) than free care. -- by Andis Robeznieks
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