Chris Woodward   ( Monday, July 28, 2014

A healthcare analyst says the Medicaid issue is important for people to pay attention to with Obamacare. 

The Associated Press has found "an unexpected rush of enrollees" in Oregon has worsened problems associated with a widespread physician shortage.

The AP also reports it has strained the capacity of the revamped network, which was endorsed as a potential national model.

Hadley Heath Manning, director of Health Policy at the Independent Women's Forum, says the Medicaid issue is important beyond just its focus on helping low-income Americans.

"I believe Medicaid and the problems with supply and demand, and not enough physicians available to the population in Medicaid, is a forecast for what we may see in private sector markets," Manning predicts.

She says many groups and individuals have been warning about problems with Medicaid and expanding the program. Issues with low reimbursements and slow-to-pay reimbursements to doctors and hospitals cause some places to refuse Medicaid patients.

"When people in Medicaid have trouble accessing primary care, they often end up in the emergency room," Manning notes, pointing to a January study in Oregon that found Medicaid expansion was leading to an increase of ER visits.

Manning believes that these problems result in lower or bleaker health outcomes for people who are on Medicaid versus a privately insured population, adding this story serves to underscore that having an insurance card is not the same as having access to healthcare.

She summarizes her concerns: "So when we look at a Medicaid program, I would advise not to expand the program but instead to go back to the drawing board. And reform the program so that it better serves the people who may be truly are indigent poor and need to rely on some safety net program. The safety net program has far too many holes in it today and many people are not being served well."