Medicaid changes spur concerns locally

first_imgAffordable Care Act is here; we answer key questionsIn the next year, the state of Washington expects to have more than 600,000 newly insured residents.A significant portion — about 330,000 people — will receive medical coverage through the state’s expanded Medicaid program.The Washington State Health Care Authority, which oversees the state’s Medicaid programs, began work three years ago to implement the expanded program offered through President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.One year ago, expanded Medicaid was still considered a dream, said Manning Pellanda of the Health Care Authority.“And now that we’re less than three months out until we start, our vision is becoming a reality,” he said.In Clark County, where about 60,000 residents are on Medicaid, that reality means an estimated 28,600 new Medicaid clients. It also means new concerns about the program’s sustainability, the local physician workforce and the state’s method of enrolling clients.As local physicians, medical groups and health plan administrators try to prepare for the patient surge, they’re left with a number of unknowns.“It’s like building an airplane in the air,” said Dr. Alfred Seekamp, chief medical officer for The Vancouver Clinic. “You don’t know how it’ll turn out, but you’ll do your best.”Expanding eligibilityUnder expanded Medicaid, people ages 19 to 65 making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for benefits.last_img

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