Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nevada's Medicaid Expansion Has Led to Double the Enrollment and Two Month Wait Times in Reno

The USA Today and Kaiser Health News published a thorough column on how the Obamacare Medicaid expansion has impacted healthcare in Reno and the rest of the state.  Nevada is one of the 26 states (like California) that expanded Medicaid up to 138% of the federal poverty level. 
  • That doubled enrollment in Reno and its surrounding county from 50,000 to 90,000 people. 
  • Medicaid enrollment statewide grew from 330,000 people in September 2013 to more than 601,000 in August 2014. 
  • Now it can take two months to get a doctor’s appointment at a local community health center, or an all-day wait if you just show up. 
  • In the article, new Meidicaid recipient Carolyn Oatman said: “I love it on Medicaid because now I can go the emergency room when I need to and don’t have to worry about the bill.”  Her only income is her husband’s $1,200 monthly disability check.
  • To entice more providers, the health law increased Medicaid pay for primary care doctors in 2013 and 2014 to the same levels paid by Medicare. 
    • In Nevada, that has meant a nearly 30 percent pay hike. 
    • But federal money is scheduled to run out at year’s end.
  • Andrew Pasternak, a family physician who works in a more upscale part of Reno, says he likely will stop seeing new Medicaid patients in January if the payments drop. 
    • “It’s a huge worry,” he said, noting his reimbursement will go from $75 for a basic office visit to about $44. 
    •  His practice now sees 400 Medicaid enrollees, up from 20 the previous year.