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I will be appearing at a press conference on Friday, August 5th as a representative of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians. Beside me will be representatives from the Alabama Academy of Pediatrics, the Alabama Hospital Association, and the community. We will share the following message. This message is being shared in across the state in a series of press conferences beginning Monday:
On August 1st (tomorrow), Alabama begins applying cuts to the state’s Medicaid system that will impact the quality of care all Alabamians receive. In Alabama, Medicaid:
- Provides health coverage for eligible children, pregnant women, and severely disabled and impoverished adults
- About 1 million Alabamians
- More than half the births in Alabama
- About 47 percent of Alabama’s children
- About 60 percent of Alabama’s nursing home residents
These cuts are devastating and dangerous. Because Alabama already operates a bare bones program, the following will occur:
- Reduction of payments per visit to primary care physicians by 50% beginning tomorrow
- Reduction of reimbursement rates for ambulatory surgical centers, all other specialty physicians, dentists, optometry, hearing and other programs
- Elimination of the prescription drug coverage for adults for the first time
- Elimination of adult eyeglasses
- Elimination of outpatient dialysis
- Elimination of prosthetics and orthotics
- Elimination of Health Home and Physician case management fees
- Consideration of a pharmacy preferred provider program
As a result of the Medicaid cuts put in place August 1, my colleagues in primary care are being put between a rock and hard place. Medicaid rates will not cover the cost of keeping the practice open. My primary care colleagues will either accept fewer Medicaid patients, limit the number of office locations, lay off staff – including nurses and other clinical staff. In some cases they will make the very tough decision of closing their practice and moving to a state that has a more hospitable practice environment.
So what? Turns out primary care doctors are the economic engines of small communities and provide economic vitality to all communities. Combined, we support 83,095 jobs and generating $11.2 billion in economic activity, according to a report by the Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Specifically:
- Jobs: Each physician supported an average of 9.5 jobs, including his/her own, and contributed to a total of 83,095 jobs statewide.
- Output: Each physician supported an average of $1.3 million in economic output and contributed to a total of $11.2 billion in economic output statewide.
- Wages and Benefits: Each physician supported an average of $758,744 in total wages and benefits and contributed to a total of $6.7 billion in wages and benefits statewide.
- Tax Revenues: Each physician supported $46,148 in local and state tax revenues and contributed to a total of $404.9 million in local and state tax revenues statewide.
When these cuts take effect, doctors will leave. Consequently it much more difficult for any patient in the state – including those on private insurance like Blue Cross/Blue Shield – to make an appointment with a doctor of their choice at a time convenient for their schedule. Jobs will leave these towns, towns will die.
Isn’t Medicaid full of fraud? Turns out, not. In fact state lawmakers recently conducted an extensive review of Medicaid’s funding and operations. Our program is one of the most frugal health plans available.
What needs to happen? In order to protect the state’s fragile healthcare system from collapse and ensure that all Alabamians have access to the doctor of their choice, legislators must find a long-term, sustainable solution to fund Medicaid, and shore up funding for the coming year.
How can you help? Visit IamMedicaid.com for more information and go HERE to contact state leaders to let them know how you feel. Encourage them to protect Alabama’s healthcare system by fully funding Alabama Medicaid. Let them know that you are concerned and you vote!