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Trends in Medicaid Physician Fees, 2003-2008

This study, published in a Health Affairs Web exclusive, provides the first national and state-by-state update of Medicaid physician fees since 2003.

Medicaid has historically reimbursed physicians under fee-for-service at levels below what Medicare and private health insurers would pay for the same services. The study finds that Medicaid fees grew by more than 15 percent from 2003 to 2008, but fell in real terms because the gains did not keep pace with inflation. Medicaid fees did grow faster than Medicare fees during that period, however, rising from 69 percent of Medicare in 2003 to 72 percent by 2008. Increases were greatest in Medicaid fees for primary care and obstetrical services.

Although findings are based only on Medicaid fee-for-service physician reimbursement, nearly two-thirds of program spending still occurs in the fee-for-service setting. The study was conducted by researchers at the Urban Institute in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the California HealthCare Foundation.

Study (free access until April 11, 2013)