KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Texas Doctors Bristle At Medicaid Cuts; State Pinpoints High Prescribing Docs

Despite states' warnings that they will face massive budget cuts without help from Washington, Congress has not yet moved to provide $24.2 billion in additional Medicaid funding that many statehouses had anticipated would be included in a failed June bill, American Medical News reports. "Lawmakers return to Washington from their Independence Day break on July 12, but Democratic leaders have not offered a clear path forward on the issue" (Trapp, 7/12).

Meanwhile, "Doctors in the Dallas area and across Texas are threatening to opt out of Medicaid because of payment cuts, which would further damage the state's already uneven delivery of health care to the poor," The Dallas Morning News reports. "The 1 percent trim to provider fees that starts Sept. 1 sounds modest. But doctors, insurance industry officials and health care experts widely see it as the first of many hits coming to doctors' wallets as Texas' fiscal woes deepen. ... Obstetrician Lou Montanaro of Carrollton said he wants to stay in the Medicaid program, barring draconian cuts. Still, despite a quarter-century of seeing Medicaid patients, Montanaro says Texas' low reimbursements have forced him to limit the type of Medicaid patients he takes: Pregnant women, yes; other women seeking gynecological care, no" (Garrett, 7/12).

KETK, a Dallas NBC affiliate: "There are already fewer and fewer physicians willing to take Medicaid patients, and with fewer incentives, officials worry the numbers will continue to decline. The state is expected to continue cutting Medicaid reimbursements to make up for its $18 billion revenue shortfall (Eden, 7/11).

Also in Texas Medicaid news, "Over the last five years, Texas physicians wrote Medicaid patients nearly 3.4 million prescriptions for antipsychotics - mind-altering drugs designed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe psychological distress, but proven to have serious side effects in kids," The Texas Tribune reports. "While a small portion of the state's 3 million Medicaid patients received the drugs, many of the highest-prescribing doctors predominantly treat children, a strong indication that's where the bulk of these antipsychotics are going." One controversial doctor wrote 54,000 prescriptions for antipsychotics between 2005 and 2009 as part of his "bio-psycho-social-spiritual" psychiatric practice (Ramshaw, 7/12).

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