MEDICAL SOCIETIES OUT-OF-STEP WITH MEMBERS WHO FAVOR MEDICAID WORK RULE
Three in four physicians favor a new federal policy that allows states to require applicants to work or seek a job in order to obtain Medicaid benefits despite opposition from professional associations that represent them, according to a survey by Merritt Hawkins, the nation’s leading physician search firm and a company of AMN Healthcare.
The single-question survey asked physicians what their position is on the new Medicaid work requirements policy. Over half (56.6 percent) said they feel very favorably about the policy, while 17.8 percent indicated they feel somewhat favorably. By contrast, only 9.2 percent of physicians said they feel very unfavorably toward the policy while 8.4 percent said they feel somewhat unfavorably. The remaining 8 percent were neutral.
“The survey strongly suggests that the majority of physicians would like to move away from the Medicaid status quo,” said Travis Singleton, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins. “Many physicians have been frustrated for years because Medicaid often pays less than their costs of providing care. Physicians have to limit the number of Medicaid patients they treat for that reason and want to focus on those who need care the most.”
Three states, including Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas, are proceeding with the work requirements policy as of March. In Kentucky, able-bodied Medicaid applicants 19-64 years old will be required to put in 80 hours of community engagement a month to qualify for Medicaid benefits, working, going to school, training for a job, or volunteering. The policy in Indiana and Arkansas has similar requirements.
The survey was conducted by email in early March and was completed by 667 physicians. According to experts in statistical response analysis at the University of Tennessee, the survey has a margin of error (MOE) of <1.0 percent.
The survey showed individual physicians feel differently than some of the professional associations that represent them.
The American Medical Association at its interim meeting last fall passed a resolution opposing work requirements as a criteria for Medicaid eligibility.
In February, the American College of Physicians submitted letters urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reject proposals from state Medicaid agencies to make eligibility contingent on working, searching for work or volunteering.
The idea is also opposed by most Democrats in Congress.
The issue may ultimately be decided in the courts. With one lawsuit already challenging Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and more possible in other states, it will be up to judges to decide whether to overturn those state waivers. VTN