The federal government will send states $11 billion to help bump up the pay of primary care physicians who treat Medicaid patients in 2013 and 2014, the Health and Human Services Department said on Wednesday.
The new provision, required under the 2010 health reform law, brings family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatric medicine, and related subspecialists up to the same pay rates that they would get for Medicare patients.
“The payment increase proposed today will be an important tool for states to ensure their primary care networks are prepared for increased enrollment as the health care law is implemented,” said Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Today’s action will help encourage primary care physicians to continue and expand their efforts to provide checkups, preventive screenings, vaccines, and other care to Medicaid beneficiaries.”
Congress will have to figure out what to do with the raise after 2014. “It’s nonsensical to think a temporary, two-year bump in pay will actually attract and retain doctors to the Medicaid program unless the White House thinks Congress will keep extending these higher payment rates in perpetuity," grumbled Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee.
"Every year, Congress has to stop Medicare physician payment rate cuts and this proposed regulation will now create the same dilemma under the Medicaid program. When that rate drops back down after 2014, what will happen to the health care Medicaid beneficiaries receive? Or is this just another budget gimmick to hide the true cost of the President’s $2.6 trillion health law?”