in Houston, Texas
Texas to cut reimbursement rates to doctors
Monday, Nov 21, 2011, 01:50PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
medical supplies

In a 99 percent:1 percent world, it makes perfect sense to save government health care by going after doctors.

The result of reducing reimbursement rates for occupational therapists, the subject of hearings this week in Austin, will be to further discourage doctors from practicing in the poorest parts of Texas, according to a story posted Sunday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Overworked doctors in rural south Texas are at the center of a shift to managed care, which the state hopes will save taxpayers as much as $300 million.

The cost of Medicaid, $24.7 billion this year, represents about a third of the state budget serving 3.4 million children, elderly, blind and disabled Texans, the paper says. Roughly two-thirds of Medicaid in Texas is paid for with federal taxpayer funds and the other third from state taxpayers. The program has grown to the point where one in six Texans were benefiting from the entitlement in 2009.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is conducting the hearings, plans to cut payments to therapists by $150 million a year. The cuts are to be made by bringing reimbursement rates for the Medicaid programs in line with similar services paid for through Medicare.

The state is also trying to save millions more by dropping co-payments to doctors for people eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

"It's another small step in the direction of making it harder to practice medicine in Texas," Dee Dockery, a radiologist and spokesman for the Texas Radiological Society, told the Star-Telegram.

The Social Security Administration recently attempted to make it easier to practice medicine for doctors reviewing federal disability applications by cutting their hourly review rate and ordering them to work faster, according to a sobering story today by the Wall Street Journal.

Although it did nothing for the backlog of disability claims, it did wonders for reducing payroll. Forty-five doctors either quit or were fired. Administrators have tried to make up for the shortage by having doctors review claims outside of their area of medical expertise.

The result, the critics say, will be an increase in awards to people who don’t qualify and denials to those who do.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Follow Texas Health Care Report on Twitter, and fan us on Facebook. Texas Health Care Report is a project of Texas Watchdog.

Photo of medical supplies by flickr user Cult Gigolo, used via a Creative Commons license.
Be the first to post a comment.
Karen Townsend | 7 years 9 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" -
Peter Corbett ✈ | 7 years 9 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy
KERA Public Media | 7 years 9 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour.
PBS MediaShift | 7 years 9 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 7 years 9 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services"
TxDOT | 7 years 9 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact
© 2019 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement