President Obama and his cohorts in Congress are so dead set on passing a bill–any bill–they don’t care if they hurt the poor. And indeed, the current bills will by forcing states to widen–and pay for–Medicaid, which could break the bank. Moreover, the payments physicians already receive from Medicaid are so low that many refuse to accept such patients.
Now, doctors are worrying that the added financial burden on bankrupt states like California may hurt the poor. From the story:
But…many…California doctors worry that the soon-to-be-finalized health care bill could backfire and actually make things worse, making it more difficult for the poor to find doctors and sending more of them to emergency rooms. They say that will happen if Congress does not increase reimbursement rates for doctors who treat patients under the state’s Medicaid program.
The program, known as Medi-Cal, currently serves roughly 6.5 million poor Californians. And that number could increase by 2 million under the pending legislation. Congress wants to use the Medicaid program as a way to cover more of the uninsured poor, reasoning that it’s a relatively cheap way to go by relying on existing programs. But doctors say only a third of the state’s 60,000 practicing physicians are participating in the program because of low reimbursement rates, and they fear that more physicians will opt out.
The problem of the unfunded Medicaid mandate was why Senator Nelson took the special deal–derisively labeled the “corn husker kickback”–which he is now trying to give back, so burned was he by the blow back. Moreover, the same restrictions to access problem could well spread into Medicare, as the cuts in that program to make it seem less expensive could drive physicians away from treating the elderly–or away from the practice of medicine altogether.
None of this matters to the zealous promoters of the plan in the Congress. As I mentioned, having badly lost the national political debate, they just want a bill passed so they can claim victory and move on. And apparently, in their fervency, they don’t care who gets hurt.