Alaska seniors who rely on Medicare have seen their access to care dwindle in recent years as fewer primary care doctors have been willing to accept Medicare patients. The reason? Medicare's reimbursement rates don't cover their costs. Doctors say they lose money on Medicare patients.
Supplemental insurance only helps to a point, and strict Medicare rules that bar individuals or states from making up the difference give doctors, patients and those who want to help little room to do so.
That's changed. Sen. Mark Begich managed to include a provision in the health care reform bill that allows the state to provide grants to health care providers who serve underserved populations -- like Alaska's Medicare patients.
In addition, the health care bill provides a 10 percent increase in federal Medicare payments to primary care providers.
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