Medicaid 'Fee Bump' Study Spotlighted at Senate Hearing

Medicaid 'Fee Bump' Study Spotlighted at Senate Hearing

Suggests Access to Primary Care Appointments Will Decline
Watch the video excerpt: Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell cites Penn's Medicaid "fee bump" study in her appearance before the Senate Finance Committee.

A University of Pennsylvania Medicaid "fee bump" study by LDI Executive Director Dan Polsky and co-authors at Penn and the Urban Institute was a point of discussion at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President's 2016 Fiscal Year Budget.

Medicaid-Medicare fee parity
The so-called fee bump was a provision of the Affordable Care Act that increased Medicaid fees for primary care doctors to equal Medicare's higher rates for the same service. The funding for those higher Medicaid fees was authorized for two years and ended last month. The study found that higher fees significantly increased the ability of Medicaid patients to schedule primary care appointments.

The study's data also suggests that access to primary care appointments will decline as a result of again paying primary care doctors less for treating Medicaid patients.

The President's budget
The issue gained further gravity when President Obama presented his budget last week and asked Congress to re-fund for another year the program that would again boost Medicaid primary care fees to the same level as Medicare's.

During the two-hour testimony of Health and Human Service Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Senate Finance Committee member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) described the Penn study's findings and asked the Secretary for her take on that data.

Burwell, who also prominently cited the study in her prepared remarks, said to Brown that, "based on the analytics," an approval of the President's fee-bump re-funding request would translate to making more people "a part of the system" by improving access to care.