Cumberland Times-News

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July 8, 2013

West Virginia may lack doctors for Medicaid expansion

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia might not have enough doctors to care for Medicaid patients when the government-sponsored insurance program is expanded next year, the executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association said.

Evan Jenkins said that most doctors who accept Medicaid limit the number of patients they see, which likely will make it difficult for some low-income patients to find a primary care physician.

“A lot of folks will dedicate a certain number of patient slots for Medicaid. When those are filled, they don’t take any new patients,” Jenkins told the Charleston Daily Mail.

Medicaid is accepted by about 2,000 primary care doctors in the state, said Penney Hall, Medicaid spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Re-sources.

Medicaid reimbursements paid to doctors are less than those paid by private health care insurance or Medicare,

“I’m not aware of any medical practice that could survive financially ... solely on a Medicaid patient population,” Jenkins said. “There’s only so many hours in the day and so many patients you can see.”

The Medicaid expansion, announced in May by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, will extend coverage to an estimated 91,500 uninsured low-income patients.

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