Cutbacks in care, longer waits to see doctors, and restrictions on prescriptions await Medicaid patients in the new year as cash-strapped states seek to rein in health-care costs, the Associated Press reports.
Most states have adopted or are proposing new limits on benefits and reduced payments to doctors via the federal and state program to provide medical care to the poor and disabled.
Federal aid for the $427-billion program has thus far escaped from the congressional spending and deficit battles, but Arizona, California, Maine, New Jersey, and other states have enacted or are considering far-reaching reductions that have prompted protests and legal challenges from advocacy and doctors’ groups.
Six million people have joined the Medicaid rolls nationwide since the start of the economic downturn four years ago, pushing enrollment to more than 50 million. Federal stimulus money helped states maintain services, but the last of those funds dried up this year.
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