Monday, March 10, 2008

Oops, We Did It Again

Free care might not always lead to more care, for one simple reason: cost.
At issue is the amount of reimbursement pediatric specialists get from state and federal funds after treating a child insured under Medicaid or the All Kids program, which uses Medicaid funds. Currently, Illinois specialists said, they are repaid just 33 cents for every dollar they spend on such patients, one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country.

Physicians worry the increasing gap between medical costs and Medicaid reimbursement rates will make it more difficult to attract new pediatric specialists to the state. Many also worry specialists will leave Illinois or stop accepting children who are covered by Medicaid or All Kids.
Now I really don't want to attract more specialists to our state (so that argument falls flat with me), but the mass exodus of doctors to other states is a consistent finding in states where doctors cannot economically maintain practices. After all, how long would any business last that received $0.33 for every $1 it spends providing their service?

Government-run healthcare ...

... be careful what you ask for.

Instead of asking where the other $0.66 went, these clever doctors, always interested in maintaining their livelihood (who can blaim them?) and understanding the system, do what any well-meaning group in this system would do: ask the government for more money!
Physicians hope legislation submitted to the Illinois General Assembly will help bring reimbursements closer to costs, allowing pediatric specialists, among other practices, to continue seeing All Kids and Medicaid patients.

But adjustments for pediatric specialists alone could cost the state $75 million, said George Hovanec, former state Medicaid director who is a consultant for Children's Memorial Hospital.
Who do you think will pay the bill?

Oops, we're doin' it again!


Addendum 09:45AM CST: One more thought: Hey, if we don't care about costs, it's almost funny that the state can find a billion dollars for a single new children's hospital, but can't find $75 million to supplement doctors' fees.

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