Here’s one study in which it’s a good thing -– at least for poor and disabled medical patients -- that Minnesota comes in almost dead last.
A survey of doctors who refuse to accept new patients on Medicaid, the government health program for low-income people, finds that Minnesota’s refusal rate is 50th lowest among the states and District of Columbia.
Put another way, 96.3 percent of Minnesota docs say they will take new patients on Medicaid, called Medical Assistance in Minnesota. The national average is 69.4 percent. Many doctors refuse to take new patients on the program because they are paid far less than they typically get for older patients on Medicaid or those covered by private insurance. New Jersey has the fewest doctors who take Medicaid patients, at 40.4 percent.
Minnesota’s neighbors also have high acceptance levels, the lowest in Iowa at 87.6 percent. Wyoming is highest at 99.3 percent.
The study was conducted by doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published this week in the journal Health Affairs.
The issue will take on growing importance when the federal Affordable Care Act in 2014 begins to expand the Medicaid program from the current 60 million patients to as many as 76 million. The expansion is optional for states, and Minnesota already has added about 90,000 new enrollees under an early opt-in provision. In an effort to help, the law increases pay for primary care physicians in 2013 and 2014 and increases funding for community health clinics.