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Mounting Pressures: Physicians Serving Medicaid Patients and the Uninsured, 1997-2001

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Publication Date: December 2002

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Peter J. Cunningham

Series: Tracking Report No. 6

Topic: Health (Health care financing)

Type: Report


The proportion of doctors providing any charity care decreased from 76.3 percent in 1997 to 71.5 percent in 2001, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). The proportion of physicians serving Medicaid patients also decreased from 87.1 percent in 1997 to 85.4 percent in 2001. The small decrease in physicians serving Medicaid patients does not appear to have had any negative effects on access to physicians among Medicaid beneficiaries. On the other hand, the more sizable decrease in physicians providing charity care is consistent with other evidence showing decreased access to physicians by uninsured persons. New budget pressures could lead states to freeze or cut Medicaid provider payment rates, which could then trigger access problems.