The President of the Medical Society of Virginia, Dr. Richard Szucs, submitted a letter on December 5 to Governor Ralph Northam in MSV's support of increased medicaid reimbursements.
Dear Governor Northam,
The Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) serves as the voice for more than 30,000 physicians, residents, medical students, physician assistants and physician assistant students, representing all medical specialties in all regions of the Commonwealth. These clinicians deliver health care each day to the millions of residents of the Commonwealth. The Medical Society of Virginia supports the funding request submitted by the Department of Medicaid Assistant Services (DMAS) to increase physician reimbursement rates to 75 percent.
The MSV has a long history of championing health care in the Commonwealth and is enthusiastic about the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who are now receiving coverage for health care visits, hospitals stays, and prescription medications due to the expansion of Medicaid. However, insurance coverage is not health care. Our top priority as expansion is implemented is that every Medicaid beneficiary has access to a physician, and that those physicians have a system that facilitates their care for this often vulnerable population.
MSV advocates for approaches that establish a sustainable Medicaid system that allows physicians and other health care providers to consistently provide the quality of care people deserve. Investing in necessary reimbursement increases will dramatically enhance patients’ ability to receive care in the most appropriate settings to have successful outcomes and for implementation of expansion to succeed. As such, I write on behalf of the Medical Society of Virginia in support of the funding request submitted by the Department of Medicaid Assistant Services (DMAS) to increase physician reimbursement rates to 75 percent.
In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Medicaid reimbursed doctors for preventive pediatric services at 94 percent of the rates paid for Medicare. In the current fiscal year, reimbursement has fallen to 71 percent of the rates paid for Medicare — a decrease of 23 percentage points. In the past eight years, reimbursement of adult preventive and primary care services went from 73 percent to 66 percent.
Our mission is to make Virginia the best place to receive care and practice medicine. Medicaid rates must be brought closer to parity with the market to achieve any significant access to health care for the citizens of the Commonwealth. There is already proven success within Virginia’s Medicaid Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) program. In its first year, Medicaid saw an almost 60 percent increase in addiction treatment services, a 29 percent decrease in the total number of opioid prescriptions, and a 31 percent decrease in opioid related visits to emergency departmentsi. In addition, the number of outpatient practitioners billing for ARTS services for Medicaid members with opioid or other substance use disorders more than doubledii. With adequate reimbursement, increased access can be achieved; this initial increase is an appropriate first step towards that goal.
As doctors, we dedicate our lives to serve and care for others. The MSV urges policymakers to end the cycle of mandated government cuts that jeopardize the ability of medical practices to employ, support, and retain a health care team.
As the leading organization for physicians in the Commonwealth, we are pleased to work with a leader who shares our values of care and service to others. This is especially true as the Commonwealth implements Medicaid expansion. The MSV looks forward to working collaboratively on Medicaid expansion and additional issues impacting access to care.
Yours in the care and service of others,
Richard Szucs, MD
i Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services, Department of Medical Assistance Services.
ii Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services, Department of Medical Assistance Services.