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Continuing to Help Low-Income Women Access Primary Care

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)April 13, 2015Articles

Medicaid is an integral part of our health care system and a crucial source of coverage for many of our patients. More than one out of every ten adult women in the US (13%) are insured by Medicaid. However, the promise of timely access to care through the program is limited by low reimbursement rates across most of the country.

On average, Medicaid pays a doctor only 59% of what s/he would earn for treating a patient with Medicare for the same primary care services. In some states, payments lower than the cost of care force doctors to limit the number of Medicaid patients that they can see, or not accept Medicaid patients at all.

Improving women’s access to care has long been a priority for ACOG. At the federal level, ACOG has advocated for extension and expansion to ob-gyns of the Medicaid Primary Care Pay Bump (aka Medicaid to Medicare parity). The federal program showed promise but wrongly excluded ob-gyns from participating. It has since expired.

ACOG now has the opportunity to build on our robust advocacy efforts by urging every state government to continue Medicaid to Medicare parity programs and ensure that women’s health is included. Currently, 19 states and DC are working to achieve the pay bump in their next year’s budget. And two states have already included ob-gyns in the higher reimbursement program!

To seize on this momentum, ACOG has launched the nationwide advocacy initiative, All-in for Women’s Primary Care. Regardless of whether your state has expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, your state can raise Medicaid primary care rates to Medicare levels for ob-gyns.

But we need your engagement: talk with your state’s legislators and Medicaid administrators about the importance of including women’s health care in the primary care bump. Please visit the Action Center, where you’ll find fact sheets, infographics, tweets, and other materials. Together, let’s go All-in for Women’s Primary Care!

Dr. JenningsJohn C. Jennings, MD is the president of ACOG. He is professor of ob-gyn at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at the Permian Basin. 

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