Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Make your "surprised face"...

...Obamacare isn't clearing out the Emergency Rooms.

//One of the selling points for the Affordable Care Act, which has enrolled millions of Californians in Medi-Cal and Covered California health plans, was that patients with insurance would have primary care doctors to take care of them and less reason to use expensive and overcrowded hospital emergency rooms. However, as the second year of the health law unfolds, emergency departments in the central San Joaquin Valley are busier than last year seeing patients — many of whom have insurance.

Obamacare, as the health law is called, delivered on its promise to get people coverage, but its shortfall has been a dearth of doctors in the community, health officials say.

A doctor shortage has long been a problem in the central San Joaquin Valley and made more so now by an influx of 139,000 Medi-Cal patients. The state-federal program for people with lower incomes now insures more than 850,000 in the Valley — nearly 43% of children and adults.

California and Valley doctors have long been reluctant to accept Medi-Cal — California’s version of Medicaid — because the state has among the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. A likely cut in Medi-Cal pay this year could further erode doctor participation in the program, health officials say.

“All we’ve done is give people a shiny new Medi-Cal card that they’re taking to the emergency department,” said Norma Forbes, executive director of Healthy Communities Access Partners, a Fresno nonprofit agency.//

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