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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 21, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Does Medicaid expansion consider the number of doctors?

Community health centers will meet new need

As a community health center CEO, I wholeheartedly believe that having enough providers for patients who will be newly eligible for Medicaid should not dissuade legislators from saying yes to expansion [“Are there enough doctors to expand Medicaid coverage?” Opinion, Feb. 19].

Indeed, there will be work to do to set the new program up for success. But we should not pass up this historic opportunity to provide health care coverage for more than 250,000 low-income people, while saving the state $225 million.

Nonprofit community health centers — the backbone of the state’s largest primary-care safety net — are committed to meeting this expanding need. In fact, we are already meeting a good part of this need. We provide cost-effective, patient-centered care to nearly one-third of the state’s uninsured — many of whom will be among the newly eligible for Medicaid.

Community health centers throughout the state are building capacity for more patients. HealthPoint recently opened a new clinic in Bothell and will open another this fall in Midway. We know that access to preventive health care keeps families secure and businesses strong. We’re doing our part to make Medicaid expansion a reality. The Legislature should do theirs.

–Thomas Trompeter, CEO, HealthPoint, Renton

More nurse practitioners and increased efficiency

The op-ed by Nick Rajacich misses the mark. The editorial on the same day rightly recommends Medicaid expansion in Washington [“Ensure Medicaid expansion,” Opinion, Feb. 19].

As a doctor and health economist, taking the federal money to ensure our working families have coverage for health care is the right thing to do. Health and education go hand in hand and families need both. We can afford to expand Medicaid, the state’s revenue will be bolstered, families will have prevention and fewer will need to go the ER.

We have enough doctors to care for all of the people in the state if we use coordinated-care teams, continue increasing the number of nurse practitioners and increase the effectiveness of our care. We can and will be able to care for all people in Washington.

–Robert A. Crittenden, professor Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle

What is he doing to help?

Nick Rajacich makes excellent points regarding Washington’s Affordable Care Act exchange’s ability to accommodate expanded service with adequate physicians. He asserts the state must provide standards, laws, regulations and requirements to assure “providers who are actually accepting new patients, and the ability of those providers to see new and existing patients in a timely manner.”

I’m curious, though — besides alerting us and lecturing the state, what is he doing? How is the Washington State Medical Association advising and encouraging its members to surrender to and contribute to achieving this worthy goal?

–Cyrus M. McNeely, Renton

Enough primary-care providers

The op-ed by Nick Rajacich asks the wrong question. Instead of asking “Are there enough doctors to expand Medicaid coverage?” the question should be, “Are there enough primary-care providers to expand Medicaid coverage?” The answer to the second question is “yes.”

Nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives are highly competent, licensed primary-care providers who, together with physicians, physician assistants and other members of health care teams, can meet the need for access to primary care in the state of Washington.

A study of Washington state providers found that nurse practitioners and physician assistants were far more likely than physicians to accept new Medicaid patients.

–Jenny Capelo, president, Council for Nursing Education in Washington State, Wenatchee

Comments | More in Health care | Topics: Medicaid expansion


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