AUSTIN, Texas - - When new patients call for appointments doctors always ask how they intend to pay. If the answer is Medicaid, the doctor can expect to lose money.
The Texas Legislature has been balancing the state's budget by paying doctors 40 to 75% less for Medicaid patients than what private insurers pay. Doctors generally plan to do some charity work, but more and more physicians are reaching their limit.
The Medicaid reimbursement rate is at the center of the debate over whether to expand Medicaid to include more poor adults. When Republican and Democratic politicians talk about how Medicaid is a "broken program," reimbursement rates are the problem.
Republican Rep. John Zerwas of Richmond says the only way to balance the budget is to cut doctor's fees or raise taxes.
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