“Physicians are no different than any other small business owner in the state,” Stevens told the Senate Health and Human Service Appropriations Subcommittee. “They don’t make decisions about their business arrangements in a two- or three-year business cycle. They look at the long term.”
It remains unclear, however, whether lawmakers and Gov.Rick Scott will support spending the money. The Agency for Health Care Administration, which is part of the Scott administration and oversees Medicaid, did not include the additional money in its budget request for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Also, supporters of spending the money face questions about whether the higher pay is attracting more physicians to treat Medicaid patients. While the increased federal payments were slated to start in January, doctors did not start seeing additional money until this summer and fall because the state needed approvals for how the funding would flow through.
While physicians will receive the additional money retroactively, the delays make it harder to determine whether higher payment rates are drawing more doctors to the program.
“It’s pretty early to tell because the money has only recently started flowing. … We don’t have necessarily a long enough track record for us to tell whether or not this has had an impact, but we certainly think it may,” said Justin Senior, AHCA’s deputy secretary for Medicaid.
Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, said in an email Thursday she hopes lawmakers will see data in the coming months about whether higher payment are attracting doctors to take Medicaid patients.
“The goal of the increase, of course, was to encourage more providers to serve Medicaid recipients,” Grimsley said in the email. “As HHS Chair, to consider maintaining the increase with state dollars, I want to make sure the objective of increasing access for Medicaid recipients is being met.”