State directs $30M to health care providers struggling from pandemic
Emergency funding to go to providers serving Medicaid members
Amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday approved an estimated $30 million in emergency support for primary care doctors, pediatricians and other health care providers who offer general health care services to Virginia Medicaid members, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) announced Tuesday.
“By taking action to support these frontline providers, we can ensure access to care for our Medicaid members and preserve the health care network that is so critical for the well-being of families, children, low-income older adults, persons with disabilities and individuals who have lost their jobs,” DMAS Director Karen Kimsey said in a statement.
The goal of the initiative is to provide relief to health care providers who have struggled financially during the pandemic due to delays in routine medical care. According to DMAS, more than 450 health care providers who serve Medicaid members have closed during the pandemic. During the pandemic, “evaluation and management” office visits were down 35% to 40%, according to findings from Virginia Medicaid.
The plan redirects 2020 state budget funds allowing for a 29% rate increase for patient office visits related to evaluation and management of chronic conditions and other health needs. The rate increase is retroactive to March 1 and extends through June 30.
“As our commonwealth reopens, these primary care physicians and other health care providers play an essential role in making sure that testing and treatment are available as we continue our work to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Daniel Carey, secretary of health and human resources, said in a statement.
The six health insurance companies that serve Virginia Medicaid recipients through Medallion 4, the state’s largest Medicaid managed care program, will pay out the emergency funding through existing 2020 contract funds. Their contracts were negotiated before the COVID-19 crisis began.
“This assistance for our providers is a wise investment that allows much-needed public dollars to stay in Virginia and support our critical health care needs rather than returning those funds to the federal government,” Dr. Vanessa Walker Harris, deputy secretary of health and human resources, said in a statement.