Michigan Doctors Making a Difference Call on State Legislators to Pass Tax, Bolster Medicaid
DETROIT, June 3 -- Michigan Doctors Making a Difference, a coalition of physicians dedicated to improving access to health care for the under- and uninsured, is calling on the Michigan Legislature to pass Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s proposed physician-provider tax to ensure the health of the state’s Medicaid program. The proposed 2.3 percent tax on physician provider revenues would generate as much as $433 million, potentially opening new doors to care for Medicaid patients.
The group recently launched a website -- http://www.mdmdcoalition.org -- to facilitate and promote advocacy of the tax. Users can access educational materials on the tax and email legislators and colleagues directly from the site.
Stephen DeSilva, M.D., president of the WSU Physician Group and a member of MDMD, believes that the tax is good for both patients and physicians, particularly those in both urban and rural communities.
“Wayne State University Physicians recognize that providing for those who are under- and uninsured is a societal problem that requires sweeping change; we also recognize, however, that the need for change is immediate,” Dr. DeSilva said. “We, as physicians, are willing to take the first step in finding better ways to fund the Medicaid system in the hope that others will join us in this endeavor.”
Of the $220 million that would be generated by the tax, $40 million could be used to immediately plug the 4 percent cut in Medicaid rates in this year’s state budget. The remaining funds would be eligible for a federal match, generating an additional $253 million for a total of $433 million.
Physicians who accept Medicaid currently are reimbursed at levels far below the actual cost of treatment; additional funds generated by the tax could bring reimbursement rates from below standard to baseline, or equal to that of Medicare. Physicians would not realize a net loss in revenue from the provider tax, as long as at least a small fraction -- 3.5 percent -- of their patients is Medicaid insured.
“Ultimately, our hope is that this tax will improve access to care for those who carry Medicaid by encouraging physicians to open their practices,” Dr. DeSilva said. “By bringing reimbursement rates in line with the Medicare standard, physicians will no longer have a disincentive for accepting Medicaid. Patients can receive the care they need, and physicians will be able to stay in business.”
Together with its primary clinical partner, the Detroit Medical Center, the WSU Physician Group provides $30 million in uncompensated care to Detroit and Wayne County residents.
The proposed fee schedule, if enacted, would help to ensure the continued viability of this safety net.
“We believe we have a moral obligation to provide care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay,” Dr. DeSilva said. “This tax will not relieve WSU Physicians of that responsibility, but instead make it a little more manageable to bear.”
Michigan Doctors Making a Difference is a coalition of physicians dedicated to advancing the concerns of urban and rural medicine. The group’s leading priority is to identify and work for the implementation of pragmatic solutions to improve access to care for under- and uninsured patients. To learn more, please visit http://www.mdmdcoalition.org.
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