The State of Washington was one of the Blue states that built their own ObamaCare Exchange, and wholeheartedly expanded their Medicaid program (with the admittedly temporary increase in Federal funding). I recently read an article in my local Everett Herald newspaper, about a survey the legislature is contemplating, of state doctors about the effects of the Medicaid expansion on their practices. It seems that a majority of state residents who signed up for “insurance” policies on the state exchange, signed up for Medicaid. Per the article, about 450,000 adults have been added to the total of Medicaid recipients in Washington State, through the exchange. The article said that, before the advent of ObamaCare, the Medicaid population in Washington State was 1,200,000 people (including adults and children). The article also estimated that there are about 6,000 medical “providers” in the state of Washington. About half of them accept Medicaid patients.
So let’s do the math. At 1.2 million pre-ObamaCare Medicaid patients, with about 3,000 providers who accept Medicaid patients, that amounts to about 400 (yes, 400!) patients per Medicaid-accepting provider. Now, add to that patient load, the ADDITIONAL 450,000 adults newly Medicaid-eligible, and you get, for each provider who accepts Medicaid patients, an additional 150 patients. Can ANY medical provider handle 550 patients? And how many doctors would want a practice that consisted entirely of Medicaid patients? So you see the problem here. My guess is that already-overloaded doctors would cease to accept any additional Medicaid patients, given that each one brings many additional hours of aggravation with Federal and State paperwork, and low reimbursement rates. And the newly-eligible patients, when they start to look for a doctor, will find many doors closed to them, and interminably long waits for doctors who will accept new Medicaid patients. The State gets lots of warm fuzzies about their generosity in expanding their Medicaid rolls to the formerly-uninsured; but have they really contemplated the perhaps-unintended results? Maybe, along with doing a survey of doctors, they should do a survey of the newly-“insured”. Ask them if they have found a doctor yet. Or how long they expect to have to wait for an appointment.
I can see the possible consequences. Overloaded doctors, frustrated patients unable to find any provider willing to see them, long lines in free clinics and emergency rooms. I just wonder how long it will take for governments, Federal and State, to mandate that doctors accept Medicaid as a condition of keeping their medical licenses. That might just be the last straw that completely collapses our previously superb medical care system in the United States. Thanks loads, OTL and Democrats (remember, ObamaCare was passed without a single Republican vote).