A controversial Commonwealth Fund study suggests that for-profit Medicaid plans spend less on care, have higher administrative costs and deliver lower quality than not-for-profits. Medicaid Health Plans of America calls the study “flawed” and argues that it draws universal conclusions about plan ownership from limited data. But study author Michael McCue of Virginia Commonwealth University says he has been clear about the study’s limitations — especially concerning the quality data – adding it would be difficult to make a connection between higher administrative costs and lower quality.
A separate study from the U.S. General Accounting Office shows that 12% of primary care physicians aren’t accepting any new Medicaid patients, 43% are accepting some new patients, and 45% are accepting all new patients. It also says physicians are as likely to accept a new uninsured patient as a new Medicaid patient. Interestingly, practice capacity isn’t an issue, but rather Medicaid pay and administrative hassles.
While Medicaid patients do have problems getting access to physicians, the study shows that the vast majority of physicians see Medicaid patients and that’s good news, according to Katherine Iritani, who headed up the research for GAO. To those who suggest the study illustrates Medicaid is a broken program — and by extension Obamacare is a bad idea for steering people into Medicaid — Iritani says, “That’s reading a lot more into these results than we would.”