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Patient Issues Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Jun 7, 2013 - 11:40:27 AM

Helping Medicaid Beneficiaries Access Specialty Care

By Staff Editor
Jun 7, 2013 - 11:35:55 AM

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( - Millions of uninsured Americans will soon gain health care coverage when Medicaid eligibility expands in many states. But these newly insured will still face a hurdle familiar to current Medicaid beneficiaries: finding specialty physicians willing to treat them.

In a new Commonwealth Fund report researchers from the Center for Studying Health System Change examine creative, collaborative approaches taken by safety-net hospitals, community health centers, specialists, state Medicaid programs, and Medicaid health plans to ensure specialty care access for beneficiaries. Some of the strategies involve using video and other technologies that allow specialists to treat patients remotely, while others focus on training primary care providers to treat certain specialty conditions or employing "access coordinators" to help arrange for specialty care services. 

While these approaches have developed under existing state Medicaid policies, sustaining, expanding, and replicating the models may require changes in payment methods that recognize new types of interactions with patients, beyond face-to-face visits. 

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