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Cuts in Medicaid hit home

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
Since December, Alabama's Medicaid program has been three to four weeks late with payments to Alabama's health care providers for the work they do to care for Medicaid patients.
Like other practices statewide, Brewton pediatrician Marsha Raulerson's office did not receive its February payment until March 11.
Medicaid funding is a critical issue to Raulerson and her practice, as 58 percent of her patients are on Medicaid. Statewide, half of all children under the age of six and 47 percent of pregnant women use Medicaid.
As president of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Raulerson has been working to make the needs of Medicaid patients and the doctors who treat them clear to those who make Medicaid funding decisions.
A few of the proposed funding solutions suggested by Raulerson include an increased tax on tobacco and a tax on soft drinks, Gatorade and bottled water.
In response to current problems with Medicaid funding, Raulerson and other doctors have had to modify their policies.
Raulerson has also decided not to see patients who "doctor shop" or go from one doctor to another.
Until recently, Medicaid supported the concept of a medical home through its Patient First program, but that program has now been discontinued. By not paying doctors a $3 per member per month fee for participating in the program, Medicaid saved $12 million.
In another effort to save money, Alabama Medicaid is developing a preferred drug list.
Raulerson has been working to make her patients, legislators, and the public aware of the need for Medicaid funding in Alabama.