The first round of cuts to the state’s Medicaid program went into effect on August 1. Officials did away with the “primary care bump,” a payment incentive given to primary care providers in an effort to encourage them to accept Medicaid patients. The cuts are already sending shock waves through Alabama’s medical community, especially in rural areas. Dr. Jarod Speer is a family physician in Childersburg and president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians. He says he serves roughly 1000 Medicaid patients, but the cuts will impact the entire state.
What people don’t understand about the Medicaid cuts?
“I don’t think they understand how extensive Medicaid is and how many people are impacted by it. More than a million Alabamians are on Medicaid. More than half the births here in Alabama are paid for by Medicaid. Sixty percent of residents in nursing homes are Medicaid patients. So it’s not just those who are disabled and those who are poor. This is going to impact everybody; If Medicaid crumbles or doesn’t receive adequate funding, then everyone is going to feel this impact in one way or another.”
How are rural practices affected differently by the Medicaid cuts?
“I don’t know if it’s much different. I think all the physicians that accept Medicaid are feeling these cuts. One thing’s that is different is that in a rural area there’s already a shortage [of Medicaid providers]. There’s not a lot of choices for the Medicaid patients. In the Birmingham area, if physician decides to stop accepting Medicaid patients, there are other options for his patients to turn to and find care somewhere else. Out here in Childersburg and Talladega County, there aren’t a lot of options.”
Would you support a lottery?
“If it was fully funding Medicaid and it was a long-term fix. I would have to see the details of how it’s laid out, but that is absolutely something I could get behind.”