Starting Jan. 1, Florida will start paying Medicaid primary care doctors at new, higher rates required by the federal Affordable Care Act, a state spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Shelisha Coleman, spokeswoman for the state Agency for Health Care Administration, said some budgetary details need to be worked out with the Legislature and the governor’s office, but there was no question that payments will be made.
“We are still working with our partners to determine how to expand our budget authority for the current fiscal year,” Coleman said in an email. “However, we will be implementing the increase per federal law.”
The law requires that for the next two years Medicaid must pay primary care doctors at higher rates. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Florida primary care doctors in 2008 were paid 55 percent of Medicare rates, meaning a $50 payment would be increased to $90 under the new system.
All of the increase will be paid by federal funds.
The Florida Medical Association has long complained that Medicaid rates were too low to attract many doctors.
Federal lawmakers’ intention was to emphasize primary care, to give patients basic treatment to reduce expensive emergency room visits and to increase the number of doctors in the Medicaid program, which is expected to expand greatly in many states in 2014.
AHCA and the governor’s office originally said that the Legislature needed to approve any increase in doctors’ pay in advance, but further review found that the law required the payments to start Jan. 1 and the state could adjust its budget afterward.
Tuesday, Jackie Schutz, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott, said in a brief email to The Herald: “We will continue to work with the Legislature on this issue.”