Doctors at odds with budget plan that cuts Medicaid

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A plan to balance the state budget would cut 4.3 percent from the state’s Medicaid provider rates, which would cost doctors more than $57 million in Medicaid reimbursement.

Some doctors say that’s a plan that unfairly targets the poor.

The Colorado Hospital Association, Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Community Health Network and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a joint statement opposing the cuts.

“As providers serving our state’s most vulnerable individuals, we are sensitive to the budgetary challenges faced by the state,” the statement said. “However, reducing provider reimbursement and shifting these costs to those already struggling with the affordability of health care services, is not the solution to the state’s budget shortfall.”

The statement also charged that cutting the budget for Medicaid at a time when people are losing jobs is irresponsible.

In addition to the cuts, the budget plan includes mandating up to eight unpaid furlough days for state workers, tapping about $215 million in special-purpose funds normally used for water projects, local government grants, tourism, CollegeInvest tuition programs and other needs.

The plan also would redirect tax money meant for tobacco cessation programs.

Colorado currently has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation, the groups said.

Their concern is echoed by Danny Reeves, chief financial officer at Penrose-St. Francis Health Centers. Reeves said across the board cuts will drastically affect the hospital’s bottom line.

“There won’t be a cost shift,” he said. “But there is going to be less money for services. It’s going to be difficult for patients who are trying to get approved for Medicaid to qualify. We’re going to see a lot more uninsured, alot of people who might have qualified not be able to. The pool of money is going to be reduced.”