The victims of the statewide and nationwide lockdowns in response to COVID-19 are legion: deaths of despair (i.e. suicide, substance abuse), avoidable deaths due to a lack of available cancer and other health screenings, increased child abuse, small businesses that took a lifetime to build being destroyed and mass unemployment.
Another victim, according to Stateline Daily, may well be Medicaid patients:
Many of the tens of millions of Americans who have lost their health insurance along with their jobs are enrolling in Medicaid — and with state budgets decimated by the pandemic, state officials worry they won’t have the money to pay for their health care.
Some projections say that Medicaid rolls may swell by more than 16 percent nationally, during a time when state budgets are bleeding revenue. So, how to make ends meet at a time when Medicaid rolls are expanding but state budgets are shrinking?
One way is to eliminate some optional coverages, while another way is to reduce reimbursement rates to providers.
Organizations representing health care providers and advocating for low-income populations have long argued that low Medicaid reimbursement rates discourage doctors from seeing Medicaid beneficiaries, limiting the options available to enrollees….Further cuts would be disastrous for Medicaid providers, said Shawn Martin, incoming CEO of the Academy of Family Physicians. “We’re really, really worried without being all-out panicked.”
Lower reimbursement rates means fewer providers, at a time when Medicaid enrollees are rising. Access to care would become more scarce, forcing more and more to forego care.
Reducing reimbursements is not something North Carolina is considering right now, said (Dave) Richard of that state’s Medicaid agency. “To pile on with a rate reduction now would just be bad policy at a time when the health system is already fragile.”
Like other states, he said, North Carolina is banking on additional federal help.
Just imagine how much tighter the squeeze would be if North Carolina had expanded Medicaid.