Physicians concerned about pegging reimbursement to Medicare in public option

Jennifer Hanscom is the CEO of the Washington State Medical Association.  She sent us this statement following Gov. Inslee’s announcement that he will propose legislation creating a public option health plan for Washington State.

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As physicians we want to ensure that all Washingtonians have access to care in Washington state. We weigh all elements of health care reform against our principles, first of which is improve access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage for the residents of our state, while ensuring that medical practices are able to remain viable in their communities.

We want to be engaged in any and all discussions related to state’s health care system and continue to continue to be part of the conversation on Cascade Care or any public opinions being considered by the Washington state legislature.

We are waiting to see the bill in writing, but based on press reports we are deeply concerned with this particular proposal pegging physician and provider reimbursement rates at Medicare rates. Medicare rates, put simply, are artificially low, arbitrary and subject to the political whims of Washington D.C. Establishing Medicare rates as the default payment for a public option guarantees that many physician practices will not be able to serve patients enrolled in it, despite the desire they may have to do so.