By J.D. Heyes | Natural News
As we’ve warned for months, just because Americans are required to have health insurance coverage under regulations contained in the Affordable Care Act, that doesn’t mean that they will have access to care.
If you recall, the entire purpose behind Obamacare, according to the president and the law’s backers, was only to insure something like 14 or 15 million people, because at the time the measure was being debated, the vast majority of Americans — well over 80 percent — had health insurance. What’s more, the bulk of those insured had private sector plans, and most were insured through employers; the number of Americans on taxpayer-subsidized coverage, like Medicaid, was minimal.
Obamacare is beginning to change that dynamic, however, as noted by the administration’s new enrollment figures released a couple of weeks ago: According to CNN/Money, some 8.7 million more Americans are now enrolled in Medicaid as of August than were a year earlier. And Medicaid expansion is at the heart of the Affordable Care Act (though you would think, in a free-market economy, the goal of any health insurance reform effort would be to put more people into private-sector plans, not hook them on a taxpayer-subsidized plan).
There is no doubt that, because of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans are actually covered under health insurance. The bad news, however, is that the insurance “coverage” is going to be little more than coverage in name only.
As reported by The New York Times:
Just as millions of people are gaining insurance through Medicaid, the program is poised to make deep cuts in payments to many doctors, prompting some physicians and consumer advocates to warn that the reductions could make it more difficult for Medicaid patients to obtain care.
This is how the law was designed to “save money” — by placing more Americans on a taxpayer-supported program, then cutting payments to the very doctors who were expected to see and treat the newly covered.
The Times continued:
The Affordable Care Act provided a big increase in Medicaid payments for primary care in 2013 and 2014. But the increase expires on Thursday — just weeks after the Obama administration told the Supreme Court that doctors and other providers had no legal right to challenge the adequacy of payments they received from Medicaid.
So, not only is the Obama Administration, per the Obamacare law, looking to cut payments to doctors, but the White House is further arguing that doctors have no legal right to question the amount that they are being paid.
How’s that for a Catch-22?
Doomed to fail
Well, doctors are having none of it. Their solution will be to simply stop seeing Medicaid patients, because the administration’s wielding of the Obamacare law is leaving them little financial choice.
According to a study by the Urban Institute, the Times reported, the cuts to doctors will vary by state, but the average cut will be around 43 percent. So, more Americans are being covered by a tax-supported entitlement that is cutting payments to providers by nearly half; that will result in fewer providers seeing Medicaid patients.
Primary care family practice physicians — a specialty that typically earns less than other specialties, and one that is already short thousands of providers — will be especially hard-hit by the cuts, according to Stephen Zuckerman, a health economist at the Urban Institute. He goes on to say that cuts of 50 percent or more could hit doctors in states like California, Florida and New York, where there are large concentrations of Medicaid patients.
Obama has proposed extending the current Medicaid payment schedule in the current budget, but there is no indication that there is enough support among members of both parties for that to happen.
Doctors’ groups, meanwhile, are already warning that access to care will suffer for patients on federally subsidized health coverage plans.
Dr. David A. Fleming, president of the American College of Physicians, which represents internal medicine specialists, told the Times some patients would have less access to care after the cuts. As such, it would make no sense to reduce Medicaid payments “at a time when the population enrolled in Medicaid is surging,” he said.
But the problem is that taxpayers are on the hook for the extended coverage, and at a time when the federal budget deficit is more than $18 trillion — with unfunded liabilities (like Obamacare) raising that amount to more than $120 trillion — it is obvious that the program is not sustainable.
This article originally appeared on Natural News.