Effective June 1st: Medicaid Reduces Eye Care, Prescription and Provider Payments
About one million people in
The changes, effective June 1st, will only affect adult services, and are targeting three major areas: prescription drugs, eye care and the way Medicaid reimburses healthcare providers.
Governor Robert Bentley issued 10.6% proration to balance
Many senior citizens like Watson, are on a fixed income, and say they don’t know what they would do without Medicaid, especially for basic needs like eye glasses. “I just got this pair a week ago, but I’ve been getting them every two years,” said Eddie Watson of Montgomery, a Medicaid patient. Under the new changes, Medicaid will not cover new eyeglasses for people like Watson.
Medicaid is also changing its eye exam policies, from once every two years to once every three years. Prescription drugs are also affected. Currently, Medicaid covers four name brand drugs per month with unlimited generic prescriptions, but effective June 1st, Medicaid will only cover patients for one name brand and unlimited generics each month.
“It is not going to prevent them from getting the drugs they need,” said Dr. Don Williamson,
Dr. Williamson says patients aren't the only group in the state affected, so are doctors. Medicaid health care providers will be reimbursed 10% less for patient services. According to Dr. Williamson, doctors like pediatricians have higher volumes of Medicaid patients, and they are concerned the cuts will affect their ability to stay in business.
“They're going to find themselves having to reevaluate,” Williamson said. “In one case whether they can even stay in
While the proration cuts start up next week, Medicaid could lose even more money come September. The state legislature passed a bill so Alabamians will vote to decide the fate of the General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2013. Leaving the fate of Medicaid in voters’ hands is not a risk the agency or many patients want to take.
“I think the thing that frightens me, is that we could erase generations of progress very quickly,” Dr. Williamson said.
Eddie Watson says for him, Medicaid is a matter of life or death. “I don't believe I could make it, it’s important to me to have Medicaid.”
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