Gaetz: Medicaid without physician support ‘cruel joke’

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 04:09 PM.

Gaetz said he met with a Washington County resident earlier in the day who said he could not get an appointment to see a physician through his Medicaid coverage.

“Until we can provide more coverage, giving out another million Medicaid cards is just a cruel joke,” the senator said.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will also bring mandates that are going to negatively impact rural hospitals, Gaetz said. “It is going to take all of your skills and abilities to maintain the level of care that you are currently providing.”

Schlenker said that under the new Medicaid reimbursements, the hospital is getting about 96 percent of the allowed payments, which means the hospital pays the remaining four percent out of its own funds.

“If your business is running at a four percent loss, then you wind up having to move that cost on to your other, insured patients,” Gaetz said. A business won’t stay in business long if it loses four cents on every dollar, he added.

The federal government will continue to put constraints on the rural hospitals, Gaetz said. “I wish I could tell you there was some magic solution, but there isn’t,” he said.

Insurance premiums are also expected to rise as the Affordable Care Act continues to be implemented. “Blue Cross of Florida predicts their rates will increase by 50 to 60 percent,” Gaetz said. Part of that increase comes from the federally mandated reduction of six categories or “bands” of coverage to three categories.

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