Vermont doctors say boosting Medicaid rates could help prevent physician shortage

March 03, 2015

Vermont lawmakers are trying to figure out if increasing Medicaid rates will help curb the cost of private health insurance, but doctors say there's another important reason to boost payments for providing government-funded care. They're worried failure to address the Medicaid issue could create a physician shortage, and put independent practices out of business. Dr. Joe Haddock says recent developments in the Medicaid program related to the federal ACA have lent urgency to the issue of reimbursements. An expansion of the program, created to provide insurance for low-income people, brought about 23,000 people onto the Medicaid rolls in Vermont. That's put even more pressure on the state's Medicaid budget, and the federal government at the beginning of this year rolled back temporary increases in Medicaid reimbursement rates that had been designed to accommodate the surge in enrollees. Bill Young, director of the Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill, says the inadequacy of Medicaid payments is only getting worse. Young's facility provides residential substance abuse treatment. Young says the problem is so acute that he's begun recruiting patients with private insurance from out of state, but he says that's not a good solution for the state of Vermont.