AAFP and Other Medical Organizations Call for Two-Year Extension to Medicaid Parity Provision

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Janelle Davis
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6253

In letters to Congress dated June 10 and May 21, 2014, the American Academy of Family Physicians joins 20 other medical organizations in urging Congress to ensure that children, low-income working families and the elderly in nursing homes have continued access to health care under the Medicaid program.

In both letters, the signatories call for a two-year extension of federal funding to sustain Medicaid payments for specified primary care services at Medicare levels through at least the end of 2016. In addition, the organizations call for physicians practicing obstetrics and gynecology to be eligible for enhanced payment if specific codes defined by the law account for at least 60 percent of their Medicaid codes billed for the year.

Current federal funding for the Medicaid parity payment is set to expire on December 31, 2014. If allowed to expire, Medicaid payment for primary care services will plummet to pre-parity levels and threaten physicians’ ability to accept new Medicaid patients into their practices at a time when Medicaid enrollment is rapidly growing. Patients without insurance and a usual source of care forego important preventive services and are at greater risk for complications that can later result in intensive and costly medical interventions.

Family physicians know the key to maintaining long-term good health is the patient-physician relationship. More than six in 10 family physicians (63 percent) currently accept new Medicaid patients, and these beneficiaries comprise 15 percent of the average family physician’s patient panel. In addition, studies have shown that increased reimbursement for Medicaid services is a leading driver in allowing physicians to accept new Medicaid patients. Sadly, nearly two in 10 family physicians are no longer able to accept new Medicaid patients because of inadequate payment, thus threating access to care for millions of low-income people in the United States.

“Now is the time for Congress to act,” said AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, MD. “We urge Congress to extend Medicaid payment parity to ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries have access to the highest standards of medical care. This will result in better health outcomes and lower overall costs.”

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter,(twitter.com) and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).