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TennCare doctors will see reimbursement boost

TennCare doctors will see reimbursement boost
CHATTANOOGA (AP) — Doctors who treat TennCare patients are getting a New Year’s pay raise.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports ( practitioners in family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics or a related subspecialty will start to be reimbursed at Medicare rates. On average, that is more than 25 percent above what they are paid now.
TennCare officials say that the boost will give qualifying Tennessee doctors an extra $55 million over the next two years.
Providing doctors an incentive to treat TennCare patients is important, because health experts expect the rolls to expand a lot next year. That’s when the requirement that everyone have health insurance kicks in.
As many as 300,000 eligible but unenrolled people are expected to sign up for TennCare.
The state must submit a plan for the reimbursement boost for federal approval. The increases will be retroactive to Jan. 1.
State Rep. JoAnne Favors, a nurse and educator who sits on the House Health and Human Resources Committee, said she hopes the extra money “will enable other physicians to feel a little more comfortable in accepting TennCare patients, especially when it comes to some of the specialists.”
The Chattanooga Democrat supports expanding TennCare, as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act, and said she’s disappointed that Gov. Bill Haslam hasn’t committed to an expansion.
But it is unclear how an expansion would be funded. Federal health care reforms will cost the state $300 million a year in excise taxes on insurance companies, new enrollment and new rules for pharmaceuticals, according to TennCare figures.
Haslam already has said that most of nearly $370 million of new revenue projected for fiscal year 2013-14 is destined for TennCare.
And federal money, which makes up a majority of TennCare’s funding, could decrease if U.S. Sen. Bob Corker has his way in plugging a loophole used by Tennessee and 46 other states.
TennCare gets 65 cents from the federal government for every 35 cents it spends on TennCare. Of this year’s $9.27 billion TennCare budget, $6.3 billion is federal money.
Tennessee levies 4.53 percent on hospitals’ net patient revenues and uses that money to obtain additional federal dollar, $1.55 billion this year.
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press,
Published in The Messenger 1.2.13