The more than 16 million people gaining Medicaid coverage in the coming years through provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could face difficulty finding a primary-care physician without a commensurate increase in the number of such clinicians, according to a new analysis (PDF).
More primary-care docs needed for expected Medicaid enrollment surge: survey
The analysis of physician responses to a national survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only about 40% of physicians who currently treat Medicaid patients work in settings with the capacity to expand their Medicaid service. And more than a quarter of physicians treating Medicaid patients work in solo or two-physician practices and are unlikely to accept more of those patients—even as Medicaid enrollment grows by at least 25% by 2019—according to the researchers.
"Thus, meeting future Medicaid demand for primary care will require recruiting additional Medicaid providers," according to a report released Wednesday on the survey.
The findings—based on 1,640 primary-care physician responses to a 2008 survey—about the low capacity of existing Medicaid physicians to treat additional Medicaid beneficiaries are particularly significant because the survey also found 80% of clinicians who treat few or no Medicaid patients will not accept any in the future.
The healthcare-reform law includes some incentives to increase the number of primary-care physicians and a short-term boost in the Medicaid reimbursements. Low reimbursements were cited as the primary reason for physicians opting not to accept new Medicaid patients.
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