Fewer Texas Doctors Accept Medicaid

image is stock photo by Kurhan. http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1314902
Fewer Texas doctors are accepting patients with Medicaid and Medicare. That's according to a new survey by the Texas Medical Association.

Every two years, the Texas Medical Association polls its members on a variety of healthcare-related topics.

This year, of the doctors who participated in the survey, just 31 percent say they still accept new Medicaid patients.That's an 11 percent drop from the 2010 survey.

Medicaid graph
Texas Medical Association graph

 

Dr. Michael Speer is president of the TMA. He says there are a number of reasons many doctors no longer accept Medicaid.

"Physicians, I think, are feeling embattled from all sides. They're being asked to do more paperwork, more justification for their care, they're getting paid less and less to do it, they're having difficulty paying the bills themselves. So those that can are retiring and those that can't retire are shifting their practices around so at least they can survive."

Speer says in the past 12 years, the number of Texas physicians who accept Medicaid has declined by more than half.
He says that's a problem in a state where one out of four patients doesn't have health insurance.

"If patients cannot find a clinic or a physician that will take them, then what happens and this has been shown in study after study after study, and it's mirrored in the patient population that has no insurance, they will have to wait. They will put off seeing the doctor until they feel so ill that they can't afford not to and they will come to the E.R."

The TMA survey also shows a decline in the number of doctors accepting Medicare patients from 66 percent in 2010 to 58 percent now.

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Laurie Johnson

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Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...