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home : opinion : opinion April 29, 2016

5/22/2013 6:00:00 AM
Letter: Medicaid care not substandard

In an April 26 Arizona Republic news story, state Sen. Kelli Ward was quoted as saying she believes that Medicaid offers "substandard care" and that expanding it reduces the incentive for people to improve their circumstances and get off the public dole.

As chief medical officer of North Country HealthCare, a community health center with 14 offices across the northern third of our state, I strongly object to the notion that we provide substandard care to Medicaid patients or that we treat our uninsured patients any differently than our insured patients, whether on Medicaid, Medicare, or private coverage. Our Mohave County offices treat many patients covered by Medicaid. Prior to the freeze on Medicaid, 43 percent of our patients in the Lake Havasu Health Center had Medicaid insurance compared to 31 percent in Bullhead City and 43 percent in Kingman. Today the percentage of patients covered by Medicaid has dropped to 24 percent in Bullhead City, 39 percent in Kingman, and 37 percent in Lake Havasu. All are given the same high level of primary and preventive health care.

Over three-quarters of the uninsured live in families where one or more individuals work and over 90 percent are from low-income or low- or moderate-income families. They are uninsured mainly because their employers do not offer insurance or they can't afford what's offered.

Sen. Ward was a physician for North Country Healthcare in Lake Havasu. Dr. Ward delivered excellent healthcare to all her patients and she is familiar with the strict guidelines and requirements that Community Health Centers must adhere to as well as the fact that Community Health Centers have to report on a myriad of measurable outcomes that demonstrate the commitment to the delivery of high quality, accessible health care for everyone in the community, regardless of insurance status.

Eric Henley, MD, MPH

Chief Medical Officer

North Country Healthcare

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, May 25, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

anonymous anonymous

Your idea has some merit....and it's already being done in some ways. As well as the military there is the National Health Service Corps.

One problem with it as you outlined it is this. Doctors spend anywhere from 6-8 in school before getting their degree and then must do their residency (another 3-7 years). If you only keep them for 4 years and pay them $50-60K+ a year as well as allowances and benefits during that time. That seems a very poor deal for the money expended on training.

Maybe a 10 yr commitment?

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

The present medical and insurance industry system benefits who? Doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurance companies etc., and of course the politicians who they donate to in campaign funds! And like the old black smith who disliked the advent of the automobile which slowly but surely put them out of business so will a new system take away the monopoly of the present benefactors of the present system since most countries have come to realize medical community like any community is driven by greed only difference is they are like human vampires sucking the life blood out of the unfortunate sick in our society! Cancer, diseases, accidents do not care what political party you belong to, what your skin tone is, where you were born its a equal opportunity disaster to ones finances!

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Imagine a system of free medical education for a 4 year promise of service to government with a set wage, salary nothing in the millionaire range many doctors aspire too but just a decent fair wage, then upon completion of this service a discharge from service, no debt, go out and practice medicine in private practice or chose to continue to work within a government runs service with Government pay grades of improvement based on skill, time as in military! It works for the military and would work for the medical field but the status quo doctors, insurance leeches who profiteer off of who is fortunate and who is not getting illness or who has insurance or not system is what some wish to keep!

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew


"We need more informed senators like Ward and Gould to guide the state through this insane labyrinth called obamacare, despite what the lefty windbaggers say."

Thanks to the grace of God, Gould is gone and shortly Ron Gould Lite will also be gone. These are two of the most misinformed people to ever come down the pike with both of them proposing ridiculous laws that were laughed out of the Senate chamber. The two are nothing more than just the usual teabaggers pushing their nonsense while “raking in the dough.” Ms Ward’s “I love lobbyists” says more than anything else she has ever come up with to expose exactly where her priorities lie.

We “lefties” may be “windbags” but at least we understand what government should be and birther nonsense or denying health care to the underprivileged is not included. What is truly sad is to see Ron Gould Lite not only go against the teachings of Christ, but to deny her own oath as a doctor.

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Article comment by: mr. parker

I'm sure you provide top notch care, the question is how long can that continue. you serve lower income people in a medically underserved area.

"Of more than 1 million physicians, therapists and counselors nationwide, only 43 percent accept Medicaid, according to a new study by HealthPocket, a technology firm that compares and ranks health plans."

"The lean physician workforce has prompted some states to try to expand the types of primary care provided by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other non-physician medical personnel. But the HealthPocket study found that only 20 percent of physician assistants and nurse practitioners nationally accept Medicaid, less than half the rate of doctors and other providers."
McClatchy 5/13/13.
Obviously,I am limited to 300 words but you can read the article in its entirety.

Hopefully,governor and state legislature will listen to reason on medicaid expansion and come up with a workable solution because you're bucking a trend.
We need more informed senators like Ward and Gould to guide the state through this insane labyrinth called obamacare, despite what the lefty windbaggers say.

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Article comment by: Insured Person

Actually the reverse is the truth. If I can't afford my co-payment. I can't go to the doctor. Medicaid patients are getting procedures for free that I can't afford to get. I just have to "live with it". Somethimes I think I would be better off getting rid of my insurance and going on the state covered medical. Then maybe my health concerns could be addressed.

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Sen. Ward was a physician for North Country Healthcare in Lake Havasu….and she is familiar with the strict guidelines and requirements that Community Health Centers must adhere to…”

Of course she is, but she’s longer concerned with the facts. As a person who “loves lobbyists” she is now a tool of the medical cabal and must toe the Teabagger line.

Fortunately she will be dumped at the next election, unfortunately the voters will just put in another version of Ron Gould to embarrass us.

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