Medicaid Physician Payment Reform: Using the Medicare Fee Schedule for Medicaid Payments

Reisinger, Anne Lenhard; Colby, David C.; Schwartz, Anne
April 1994
American Journal of Public Health;Apr94, Vol. 84 Issue 4, p553
Academic Journal
Objectives: The purpose of this article is to provide estimates of the costs of basing Medicaid physician payment levels on the new resource-based Medicare Fee Schedule. Two possible policy options are considered: setting all Medicaid physician fees at the Medicare Fee Schedule level and setting only office visit fees at the new Medicare levels. Methods: Data on Medicaid physician fees, use patterns, and the Medicare Fee Schedule are used to develop state-level estimates of expenditure changes under each option. Results. Setting Medicaid rates at the Medicare Fee Schedule level could increase expenditures by $3.2 to $4.1 billion nationally; the other option would result in substantially lower increases in expenditures. Because of the current variations in Medicaid physician fees and in the breadth of eligibility across states, the cost of adopting the Medicare Fee Schedule varies considerably among states. Conclusions: Adopting the new Medicare Fee Schedule for Medicaid payments, proposed by policy-makers as a way to increase access to appropriate medical care, could double physician expenditures in some states. Adoption of more limited versions of the fee schedule might achieve some access gains at lower costs.


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