Virginia Insurers Bracing for State’s Bolstering of Medicaid

Lawmakers consider increasing pay for doctors caring for Medicaid beneficiaries.

As Virginia gets ready to expand Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of new beneficiaries, the state Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) wants Gov. Ralph Northam to include about $19 million in his two-year budget proposal that’s to be unveiled next month. The money would be used to increase payment to primary care physicians who treat Medicaid beneficiaries. The Richmond Post-Dispatch reports that there’s urgency fueling the request “because the state expects to enroll 360,000 people under expanded Medicaid eligibility in the first year, 375,000 by the end of the biennium in mid-2020 and ultimately 400,000 people.”

Lawmakers want to bridge a widening gap in pay between doctors who serve Medicare patients and those who serve Medicaid patients. They seek more information about how much exactly it will cost to close that gap.

The six health insurance plans that the DMAS says will serve the majority of the expanded Medicaid population also have questions. The plans say they’re ready to take on the new patients, but would like more information. Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans, told the newspaper that “The basic challenge is who’s going to seek care, where and when, and for what reason.”