Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced today that the Alabama Medicaid Agency will restore payments to doctors at the levels they were before the recent cuts went into effect, in August. Of course, these payments were reduced as a result of an $85 million shortfall in Medicaid’s budget for the new fiscal year, starting on October 1.
The reduction was estimated to be save the state $14.7 million.
Two weeks ago, however, the state Legislature passed a new bill that was able to close the 2017 budget gap and, more importantly, provide the additional funding to Medicaid that had originally been short, for the 2018 year. As such, Medicaid will now get another $120 million over a two year period, out of what has been estimated to be a $640 million bond issue now backed by money from a BP oil spill settlement.
Overall, the state will see a total bump of $49 million, which breaks down into that . $14.7 million savings—which actually covers more than 65 percent of Alabama State’s Medicaid Program, to match another $34.3 million, as described by the governor’s office.
Bentley and Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar said that restoring these payments to pre-Aug 1 levels will help doctors who accept Medicaid patients to cover the associated costs and, furthermore, protect access to care for these patients.
He goes on to say, “It will allow those providers to continue to pay their overhead and necessary expenses. Which is very important, because if they have to cut their staff, they will not be able to see Medicaid patients quite as quickly. Or they may not be able to see our Medicaid recipients, which would be quite detrimental.”
In addition, Alabama Academy of Pediatrics executive director Linda Lee comments,
“When you consider what the commercial market pays for services that are performed by pediatricians and family physicians, the Medicaid fee schedule before the bump didn’t come close to truly or adequately paying for those services.”
Finally, the governor notes Azar notes, “The payment bump gave pediatricians and I would assume other family physicians the confidence to move forward and provide the best care possible to those patients,” adding that without them, there are growing concerns that doctors in the state may not be able to take Medicaid patients, which has helped pediatricians to remain committing to accepting patients.