Governor’s Medicaid plan could boost pay for doctors

In the American health care system, some patients are worth more money than others.

As cold and clinical as that may sound, it has long been the reality under a government-run Medicaid system that pays doctors less money to treat the poor than those same physicians receive for treating the elderly covered by Medicare or middle- and upper-income individuals who have private insurance.

Yet that could change — or at least begin to — under a little publicized aspect of Gov. Jay Nixon’s plan to expand Medicaid eligibility in Missouri.

Nixon outlined a budget plan this past week that seeks to spend $908 million of new federal money to add nearly 260,000 lower-income adults to the Medicaid rolls under the provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Figures provided to The Associated Press by Nixon’s budget office show that nearly $82 million of that money is the result of a proposal to increase the reimbursement rates for medical providers who treat those newly added patients.

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