KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Lack Of Doctors Accepting Medicaid Could Complicate Health Overhaul

As pressure mounts on state Medicaid budgets, the New York Times examines whether the programs can handle the influx expected under the new health law. And The Hill looks at the latest waivers awarded by the administration for insurance plans that don't meet the requirements of the law.

The New York Times: Cuts Leave Patients With Medicaid Cards, But No Specialist To See
Eight-year-old Draven Smith was expelled from school last year for disruptive behavior, and he is being expelled again this year. But his mother and his pediatrician cannot find a mental health specialist to treat him because he is on Medicaid, and the program, which provides health coverage for the poor, pays doctors so little that many refuse to take its patients. The problem is common here and across the country, especially as states, scrambling to balance their budgets, look for cuts in Medicaid, which is one of their biggest expenditures. And it presents the Obama administration with a major challenge, since the new federal health care law relies heavily on Medicaid to cover many people who now lack health insurance. "Having a Medicaid card in no way assures access to care," said Dr. James B. Aiken, an emergency physician in New Orleans (Pear, 4/1).

The Hill: List Of Health Reform Waivers Keeps Growing
The number of waivers the Obama administration has awarded for a provision of the year-old healthcare reform law grew by 128 in March. With the new waivers, that means 1,168 businesses, insurers, unions and other organizations have received one-year exemptions from a healthcare reform provision requiring at least $750,000 in annual benefits. The administration says the temporary waivers are granted to help stabilize the insurance market until a fuller package of reforms takes effect in 2014, but the growing number of waivers have exposed the White House to heavy criticism from Republican opponents of the law (Millman, 4/2).

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