“This has been moving at lightning speed, and it makes really big changes to our healthcare system,” said Cindy Zeldin, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future.
Georgia’s Medicaid patients could face longer wait times for doctor’s appointments without legislative action. That’s because a nation-wide bump in primary care provider reimbursement rates expired at the end of 2014, triggering a need for state action. This temporary rate bump resulted in an average eight percent increase in appointment availability, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study examined ten states, including Georgia, and concluded that payment rate increases are an effective strategy for enhancing access to primary care services. According to a participating physician in Texas, his practice was able to double the amount of Medicaid patients seen during the two year time the pay bump was in effect. By restoring the rate bump, known as Medicaid payment parity, Georgia policymakers can help ensure patients get timely access to primary care in an appropriate setting and help keep patients from ending up in the emergency room.