Looking for ways to absorb escalating Medicaid costs, Democratic lawmakers announced Tuesday a proposal to change how doctors who treat Medicaid patients are paid. Yet, some Republican lawmakers are already saying, on the first day of the 2012 legislative session that the idea may be harmful.

Democratic House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, of Denver, is asking for bipartisan support for the proposal.


Looking for ways to absorb escalating Medicaid costs, Democratic lawmakers announced Tuesday a proposal to change how doctors who treat Medicaid patients are paid. Yet, some Republican lawmakers are already saying, on the first day of the 2012 legislative session that the idea may be harmful.
Democratic House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, of Denver, is asking for bipartisan support for the proposal.
“Democrats are here to say we want to partner with Republicans, the administration and providers to find ways to deal with our Medicaid budget,” said Ferrandino.
Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, a sponsor of the proposed legislation, said the economy and a recent push toward allowing more people to qualify for the program are the driving forces behind the new payment method.
“Colorado families are still suffering from the aftereffects of the Great Recession and thus the Medicaid rolls continue to grow,” said Young. “Expanded access to care is simply unsustainable without changes in how states deliver and pay for care.”
The proposed bill asks health care providers to partner with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment in creating pilot programs restructuring the payment system. The goal, said Young, is to incentivize better outcomes for Medicaid patients and to save the state money.
Currently doctors are paid on a fee-for-service basis, with payments made to the provider for each medical procedure.  A global payment, by contrast, would make payments based on how many patients are seen and services rendered effectively.
“The fee-for-service model is outdated,” said, Young. “Moving toward a global-payment, integrated-delivery system will ensure that physicians are getting incentives to provide quality of care rather than quantity of care.”
Yet, Joint Budget Committee Chair Cheri Gerou, a Republican House member from Evergreen, said she’s more comfortable with a medical provider-initiated proposal rather than “another government mandate.”
“The stresses placed on our medical providers to care for Medicaid populations are quite complex,” said Gerou.
Rep. Jon Becker, R- Fort Morgan, also a member of the budget committee, said changes to the way providers are paid for Medicaid patients should be thoroughly examined before any decisions are made.
“These doctors treating these patients have been harmed enough already,” said Becker. “If we keep cutting back on payments, pretty soon, we’ll be losing providers and patients will suffer.”