BY RENEE DUDLEY–Monday, July 11, 2011
The latest round of South Carolina Medicaid cuts, which include reductions in payments to doctors and hospitals, takes effect today.
Physician payments for Medicaid, the state- and federally funded health insurance program for the poor and disabled, will be reduced by up to 7 percent and patient co-payments for some doctor visits will increase by $1.
The S.C. Department of Health and Human Services expects the reductions, which first were announced in early June, will cut an estimated $125 million in state costs for the fiscal year that began July 1.
It is the second round of Medicaid cuts in three months. The state’s 3 percent across-the-board cuts from April also remain in effect.
Associations representing doctors and hospitals have opposed the cuts, saying doctors could lose money treating Medicaid patients and might be forced to stop accepting Medicaid altogether. Patients then would have trouble finding doctors, they said.
Today’s reductions vary by profession. Most primary care and pediatric specialists will see a 2 percent cut while anesthesiologists will see a 3 percent cut.
Dentists, originally slated to receive a 3 percent cut, now will have a 2 percent reduction, the Medicaid agency said Friday.
Payments to oncologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, gynecologists and cardiologists will be reduced by 5 percent.
Payments will be cut by 7 percent to personal care attendants, podiatrists, audiologists, psychologists, chiropractors and some other health professionals.
Beginning July 1, patient co-pays increased from $2.30 to $3.30 — the maximum amount allowed by federal law — for doctor, clinic, home health and optometrist visits. And for the first time, people enrolled in some programs for the elderly and disabled will be required to make co-pays for some medical services.