IL Sees Doctor Doctor Shortage for Medicaid

The program pays too little for physicians to bother


Illinois Medicaid Director Julie Hamos is warning that there won't be enough doctors to treat the expected surge next year of new Medicaid patients unless more physicians participate in the health care program for the poor.

"This is the thing that keeps me awake at night," Ms. Hamos, the director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which administers Medicaid, said last week. "Where are the providers to serve all these new people?"

About 1.2 million uninsured people in Illinois are expected to gain some form of health insurance coverage on Jan. 1 under the landmark overall of health care. About half of those people will be newly eligible for Medicaid.

"We don't have enough doctors in the pipeline," Ms. Hamos said during the keynote speech at an April 4 Institute of Medicine of Chicago leadership breakfast.

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  1. Well, I guess you gave me the news.

  2. First, there is no doctor shortage in Illinois. Of course there aren’t enough doctors willing to treat medicaid patients. Illinois is a very physician unfriendly state where medicaid reimbursements are abysmal and not worth the doctors time. Also, because of the laws, doctors are sitting ducks for money hungry malpractice lawyers who are quick to sue at any second to make a dime. The fact is medicaid patients are typically more medically complicated and typically less educated requiring far more of a physician’s time; they are also less compliant with appointments and medication, and they are the more likely to sue in hopes of hitting the “medical lottery”. There is no doctor shortage in economic terms, because there is a surplus of physicians willing to treat those who can pay market rates. Since politicians have chosen to drop government insurance reimbursements far below market wages, demand for care has fallen in economic terms despite the fact that millions need the care. The solution is very clear, the people of Illinois must chose whether they are willing to pay for it. It will be expensive, but is required if you really want everyone to have access. An insurance card doesn’t mean access to care.

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