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Health experts discuss implications of Medicaid expansion

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The biggest changes of the new health law become a reality in 2014, that’s when tens of millions of additional Americans will qualify for Medicaid.

Medicaid pays doctors a lot less than private insurance or the Medicare program for seniors. So, some experts worry there won’t be enough providers willing to take care of all the new people who will get their care through the public plan for low-income people.

University of Pennsylvania health policy analyst David Grande says there’s a fix and a catch in the health law.

Grande: So the federal government is picking up the tab of getting reimbursement rates within Medicaid up to the level of Medicare which would make it a much more desirable insured population for physicians to care for. However, the federal government is only going to pick up that tab for two years.

Health experts agree that better access to insurance is a great starting point for disease prevention, so many are celebrating the Medicaid expansion.

But Grande says lots of states worry that they’ll be on the hook to continue the boosted Medicaid funding when the federal funding spigot turns off.

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