Thursday, November 10, 2011
Limiting Outpatient Visits for Medicaid Patients
In their infinite wisdom, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Maryland is proposing as a cost saving measure to limit the number of outpatient visits to ten per year for Medicaid patients. A few weeks ago, I commented on that some states were limiting the number of inpatient days for Medicaid patients. Maryland's approach is the same shortsighted planning as the other states. Applying an arbitrary limit would disrupt the care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. Individuals suffering from AIDS, mental health conditions, high-risk pregnancies and substance abuse would be harmed by limiting access. These patients would delay treatment until they needed to be hospitalized or would seek treatment in the ER, generating a higher cost of care in both instances. This approach runs contrary to what hospitals are now trying to achieve by providing care in the most appropriate setting in an attempt to keep patients out of the hospital. The Maryland Hospital Association has presented a five-point plan to create Medicaid savings that hopefully DHMH will embrace.