Dr. Ted Mazer is one of the few ear, nose and throat specialists in this region who treat low-income people on Medicaid, so many of his patients travel long distances to see him.
But now, as California’s Medicaid program is preparing for a major expansion under President Barack Obama’s health care law, Mazer says he cannot accept additional patients under the government insurance program for a simple reason: It does not pay enough.
“It’s a bad situation that is likely to be made worse,” he said.
His view is shared by many doctors around the country. Medicaid for years has struggled with a shortage of doctors willing to accept its low reimbursement rates and red tape, forcing many patients to wait for care, particularly from specialists like Mazer.
Yet in just five weeks, millions of additional Americans will be covered by the program, many of them older people with an array of health problems.
So it turns out that if you pay people less for their services than their services are worth, you get less of them.