Proposal Calls for Increase in Mo HealthNet Rates

Dr. Thomas Sparkman
Dr. Thomas Sparkman

Proposal Calls for Increase in Mo HealthNet Rates
By: Crystal Britt

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - As we all know, health care's becoming more and more expensive.  In many cases, it's also more complicated not just for you, but doctors too.
New state law in Missouri now requires physicians get more money from the state's Medicaid program, now known as Mo HealthNet.
Now a new idea, proposed by the governor, would re-imburse even more.  That's good news for doctors and perhaps you as the patient.
Dr. Thomas Sparkman's been treating patients for 44 years.  His workload might lighter these days, but his passion hasn't dwindled a bit.
As the chair for the Missouri State Medical Association Council, Sparkman also stays on top of the latest political news.
As a self proclaimed physician's advocate, Sparkman's still fighting for reform in the goverment health care programs for the poor.
"Doctors felt it was flawed from the beginning," he said.
During this past legislative session, lawmakers approved more reimbursement to physicians from Medicaid also known as "MO Healthnet".
"We had just changed from a third of the doctors cost to a rate of 55 percent," Sparkman said.
Governor Matt Blunt's proposal would push it even further to 65 percent.
"This is a great step forward, a beautiful step forward," he said.  He's hoping someday soon for 100 percent.
Dr. Sparkman reguarly visits patients, like the ones at the Heartland Care and Rehab Center in Cape Girardeau.  Many of them are on Medicaid.
Over the years doctors have stopped taking Medicaid patients because they lose money.  That leaves those with low incomes with few choices.
Dr. Sparkman says that could all change.
"We want the patients to have access to care, not only access to care, but access to appropriate care."
Sparkman says Missouri has one of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates for physicians in the country.