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Why Would Any Doctor Accept Medicaid?

A physician friend of mine posted a copy of her Medicaid reimbursement on Facebook. Take a look at the charges compared to the actual reimbursement. She is paid between $6.82 and $17.54 for an hour of her time (i.e. on average, she makes less than minimum wage when treating a patient on Medicaid).

The enthusiasm about expanding Medicaid coverage to the previously uninsured seems misplaced. Improved “access” to the healthcare system via Medicaid programs surely cannot result in lasting coverage. In-network physicians will continue to dwindle as their office overhead exceeds meager reimbursement levels.

In reality, treating Medicaid patients is charity work. The fact that any physicians accept Medicaid is a testament to their generosity of spirit and missionary mindset. Expanding their pro bono workloads is nothing to cheer about.  The Affordable Care Act’s “signature accomplishment” is tragically flawed – because offering health insurance to people that physicians cannot afford to accept is not better than being uninsured.

After all, improved access to nothing… offers nothing. Inviting physicians to work for less than minimum wage so that politicians can crow about millions of uninsured Americans now having access to healthcare, is ridiculous. Medicaid expansion is widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The saddest part is that the have-nots just don’t realize it yet.

The New Meaning Of The Refrigerator Nurse

Meet Nurse Prudence Perfect. She is the unit’s refrigerator nurse. It’s her job to make sure that everything is perfect and meets Joint Commission standards because you never know when the old JC will drop by for an unannounced visit. Insulin vials labeled and dated? Check. Refrigerator thermometer easily accessible and log up to date? Check. Hey, who put their lunch in here? There is to be no food in medication refrigerator! Prudence is gearing up. Stand by for one of her Joint Commission inservices.

For you nursing history buffs, the term “refrigerator nurse” goes way back to a time when Prudence was a graduate nurse. The term was coined back when it only took one paycheck to support a family, and when nurses, typically women, quit working once they got married. A nurse who went back to work after she was married in order to buy luxury items for her family, such as a refrigerator, was known as a refrigerator nurse. Some have suggested that these nurses were less dedicated to their patients and to the nursing profession, but this is simply not true. It was a different time back then. Women who went back to work after they got married broke with convention. They were rebels and some of the best nurses I’ve known.

This week, I also became a refrigerator nurse, but not in the classic sense. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

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