Some Medicaid providers say they'll serve patients despite delays

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A state healthcare group is refuting Governor Haley Barbour's claim that a delay in Medicaid reimbursements won't affect services. The president of the Mississippi State Medical Association said even a short delay could be very hard on the doctors, clinics and hospitals treating large numbers of poor people.

State Medicaid officials are asking providers who were told on Friday that they won't be getting paid for awhile not to turn Medicaid patients away. Some providers told WLOX that's not an option.

A community health fair in Gulfport gave Andrea Rogers a chance to talk to people interested in learning more about Quality Pharmacy and the people it serves.

"We provide free delivery for residents who live in the three southern counties," said Rogers, the pharmacy co-owner. "We also provide free medication management for individuals with chronic conditions or multiple medications."

Rogers said 75 percent of the Biloxi based pharmacy's patients are Medicaid recipients. Now comes word that the state has put on Medicaid reimbursements on hold.

"That type of news is never exactly pleasant but I think here on the coast we're very fortunate that our health care providers are very patient," said Rogers. "I think hopefully they'll be able to fix that soon. But I do have faith that we will continue care for our patients and fellow citizens. "

The head of the State Division of Medicaid is hoping other Medicaid providers feel the same way. In a letter to providers dated June 19,  Executive Director Robert Robinson said, "We ask that you continue to serve our Medicaid beneficiaries and that you continue to file your claims with ACS."

Dr. Edwin Quinones is a kidney doctor. He said patients who go to his clinic depend on treatments to stay alive.

"A large proportion of our dialysis patients, they do have Medicare and their co-insurance is Medicaid,"Dr. Quinones said. "They don't have to fear anything about us not seeing them. We will see every patient in our clinic in dialysis. We know we'll get reimbursed one of these days so they don't have anything to fear."

The state Medicaid program serves almost 600,000 state residents and is $34 million in the red. Medicaid officials say once the legislature provides the money, all legitimate claims will be paid.

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