SB 6272 – Increasing Payments to Primary Care Providers Under Medicaid

Currently, 1.8 million people or nearly 25 percent of the Washington state population, are enrolled in the Medicaid federal entitlement for the poor. Doctors and other providers have a difficult time paying their financial overhead with the low payment rates in the Medicaid program and consequently they frequently limit the number of Medicaid patients they will treat. SB 6272 would increase provider payment rates in the Medicaid program to equal those of Medicare, the government health insurance entitlement plan for seniors. State lawmakers unfortunately are caught in a vicious cycle in which the more they spend on Medicaid, the more money they receive from the federal government because of matching funds. From a policy standpoint, the distinction between federal money and state money is misleading, because Washington state taxpayers are also federal taxpayers. Simply increasing provider payments would not reform Medicaid in a meaningful and sustainable way.

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