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February 26, 2013 12:07 PM Why Is the Obama Administration Trying to Make Medicaid More Popular?

By Aaron Carroll

If the quotes in this NYT piece are accurate, the administration is doing itself no favors in trying to make Medicaid more popular:

The Obama administration said Monday that states could cut Medicaid payments to many doctors and other health care providers to hold down costs in the program, which insures 60 million low-income people and will soon cover many more under the new health care law.

State governments want to save money. One of the ways that they can do so is to decrease Medicaid spending. But Medicaid is already pretty lean, and it’s hard to spend less. One way they could do so is to decrease reimbursement to physicians and hospitals.

This is, of course, unpopular with those groups, and for good reason. Medicaid already arguably under-reimburses many providers. It’s one of the things that the ACA is fixing this year.

Here’s the administration’s reply:

“There is no general mandate under Medicaid to reimburse providers for all or substantially all of their costs,” the administration said.

That isn’t going to please anyone.

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Aaron Carroll ,MD, is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.