Beacon Health transfers Medicaid patients from several Beacon primary care practices

NOW: Beacon Health transfers Medicaid patients from several Beacon primary care practices

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Beacon Health is moving Medicaid patients to other federally qualified healthcare centers in Michiana.

This action follows the growth in Medicaid patients growing to two million after the pandemic. 

Beacon aims to move Medicaid patients from several of Beacon's primary care practices, some within St. Joseph, Elkhart and LaPorte, by partnering with Heart Linc and Heart City Health to transfer these patients. 

Other patients have been moved to the Memorial Hospital Family Practice Residency Program, which operates out of the E. Blair Warner Family Medicine Center.

According to Brian Tabor, the President of the Indiana Hospital Association, it's a financial decision. 

"Medicaid reimbursement in Indiana has been low for a long time," he said. "When you look at the payment to hospitals, the base rate has not been increased in 30 years."

He adds that staffing shortages and the pressure to reduce overall costs in hospitals aren't helping the situation either.

He's hoping the state will offer more support. 

“The state did enact some increases for physician rates," said Tabor. "They also increased rates for dentists, but those won't go into effect until next year. We had hoped that the general assembly and the budget would increase the hospital rates for hospital services.”

Representative Maureen Bauer echoes Tabor's statement adding that without Medicaid reimbursements, hospitals are struggling in Indiana and nationwide. 

For Councilmember Lori Hamann, Beacon's change is "disturbing" as their decision affects patient care. 

"The people getting harmed are the patients who rely on the care of these local physicians and are in no financial position to engage in private pay health care." 

Hamann says that people she's talked to are reeling from a lack of information or misinformation presented. 

ABC57 reached out to Beacon Health regarding clarification on how Beacon's changes affect Medicaid patients only, who provided a statement: 

"All affected Medicaid patients will be communicated with about this change. This transition, which ensures patients are receiving the most comprehensive, high-quality care, including access to a broader array of services, does not impact our hospitals or specialty practices. And at this time, no additional primary care practices will be impacted. Caring for more than two-thirds of Medicaid patients in the region, Beacon Health System remains the largest provider of care to the region’s underserved and poor," said Heidi Prescott, Senior Media Relations Strategist of Beacon Health Systems.

There will be a Medicaid oversight committee on November 17 at the St. Joseph County State House for community members to share their public testimony. 

NOTE: State Representative Maureen Bauer told ABC57 News that Beacon Health will move Medicaid patients from seven of its facilities. A representative from Beacon said that number is incorrect but declined to give us a specific number.

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