California wants to pay doctors more money to see Medicaid patients

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — When Hunter Morgan bought an optometry practice in Southern California three years ago, one of the first things he did was start seeing patients who use Medicaid, the government-funded health insurance program for low-income people.

The previous owners had not accepted patients on Medicaid, which covers roughly a third of California’s 39 million residents. But Morgan felt he had a responsibility to serve people in need.

Just five months later, Morgan said, he had to stop treating Medicaid patients because of the paltry pay. He charges $175 for eye exams, but the most he could get from Medicaid was about $40. That made it difficult to pay his staff and pricey rent in the upscale beach community of Encinitas, 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of San Diego.

“We couldn’t function that way,” he said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Democratic allies in the state Legislature have greatly increased the number of people on Medicaid, including all eligible adults in the state who are in the country without legal permission. But while California’s Medicaid now covers about 15 million people, the rates it pays to doctors have not kept up.

Source: California wants to pay doctors more money to see Medicaid patients / kxan

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