NC lawmakers could reduce Medicaid reimbursements

Reported by Gavin Johnson - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - North Carolina state law makers are looking to make several cuts to Medicaid that would effect thousands of people.

Some doctor offices could see a decrease in the amount of money they see for reimbursements.

Parent Amanda Black is concerned about the proposed cuts, because her 10-year-old son has an untreatable case of bi-polar disease.

"There is one medication he takes, it cost about $2,000 a month, 90 pills," said Amanda.  "And between other pills and doctor visits it would cost about $4,000 dollars."

Members of the General Assembly are considering cutting Medicaid reimbursements to physicians by 11.5%.  If the bill is passed, it would be effective for the next two years.

Owner of Oak Island Pediatrics, Dr. Jugta Kahai, said the cuts could force her practice to close, because more than 75% of her patients are on Medicaid.

"I think it's not the right thing to do," said Dr. Kahai.  "It's an irresponsible choice. It will cost patients a tremendous amount, and our emergency rooms will be flooded."

Parent Arlene Gunn was thankful when she found Oak Island Pediatrics because she had been driving her daughter seven hours to be treated for angelman syndrome.

Now, Arlene fears they will be hitting the road again.

"You can get out the Brunswick County phone book and call every doctor's office in this area, and they will tell you they're not seeing new medicaid patients," said Arlene.

If the proposed cuts are approved, speech pathologist, occupational therapists, and physical therapy would be cut 100%.

Dr. Amy Nolan with Therapy works of Wilmington said that means $25,000 children would have to go without speech therapy, and 5,500 speech pathologists would lose their jobs.  She said instead of helping, the cuts would harm the state.

"Everyone thinks if you can't say your R's that's all speech pathologists do, and basically we do everything from shoulders up to swallowing," said Dr. Nolan. "Even language development, and if your child can't swallow they won't survive. So that's part of what we do."

The General Assembly is expected to vote on the budget by June 18 and it would go into effect July 1.

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