Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kids Caught In Medicaid Pay Crossfire


A kid with a fractured leg highlights the problems Dr. Jaquelin Gotlieb's pediatric practice is having with Georgia's Medicaid system.

"I needed to send the child to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon," said Gotlieb. "I couldn't find a specialist who took Medicaid. It took so long that the leg healed on its own."

Gotlieb said getting paid "fairly" by Medicaid is such a problem for Georgia's doctors that many are no longer taking new patients, or dropping patients altogether. Others, she said, are going out of business because the payments from the program don't cover their costs.

The impact on her Atlanta-area practice has been profound. Because two pediatric clinics have closed in her area, she's seeing a lot more patients.

"This is the first time in my life that I'm seeing as many as 30 patients a day," said Gotlieb. "It's an extremely high number for me."

Consequently, as the number of Medicaid patients grows at her practice, Gotlieb said she's also losing money instead of making more money.

"It's become a desperate situation for us," said Gotlieb, who says 62% of her patients are now on Medicaid. Her practice, the Pediatric Center of Stone Mountain, has already laid off one of its four doctors since January, and four other employees were let go in the past three weeks.

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