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Insurance & Benefits

GAO: Medicaid Offices Experiencing Difficulty Finding Providers for Patients

By Hilary Lau |

After conducting a survey of the District of Columbia, U.S. states and five territories, the Government Accountability Office reports that Medicaid offices are experiencing difficulty in finding enough dentists, specialists, primary-care doctors, and other providers to care for Medicaid patients.

The shortage is most acute for dentists,  reported by 30 surveyed Medicaid officials . Specialists came in second, with 26 surveyed officials reporting them as a challenge, followed by mental health and substance abuse providers and primary-care physicians participation by 17 of the surveyed Medicaid officials.

Between 2008 and 2011, more than half of U.S. states reported maintaining or decreasing their average Medicaid application processing times (the average number of calendar days between application submission and final determination of eligibility), with the average times reported by 39 states falling between 11 and 45 calendar days. During this same period, however, GAO could not assess whether states processed application at a rate that kept pace with new application submissions because most of the states provided inconsistent or incomplete data.

GAO conducted the study as a measure of Medicaid enrollment’s significant growth in recent years due to the economic downtown—growth that is expected to continue as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act extends eligibility for Medicaid in 2014 to millions of uninsured Americans.