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Cut Hassles, Expand Medicaid: Docs

A majority of physicians who responded to a Florida Medical Association survey this month said they support expanding the Medicaid program to cover more indigent and working-poor adults, FMA reported Tuesday

But that's not the group's number-one goal for the coming legislative session, so it's unclear whether FMA will lobby for it.

Respondents' most common concern was the amount of time they waste on unnecessary administrative work they must do to comply with either government regulations or requirements of HMOs and insurers.  

"Each different insurer can have dozens of different prior authorization forms doctors must complete depending on the type of insurance coverage the patient has," said Erin Vansickle, FMA's vice president for communications. "This means that doctors’ offices need to be proficient in potentially hundreds of different types of forms in order to be paid for treating patients.

"This creates a burdensome maze that is difficult to navigate and ultimately slows down treatment and harms patients," Vansickle said in an e-mail.  She added that insurers often take days or weeks to respond to a prior authorization request.

Studies have shown that the burdensome prior authorization process is costing the health care system between $23-31 billion per year, which equates to about $85,000 per physician, she said.  These costs are ultimately passed along to consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums or out or pocket expenses.

"We are looking at ways to reduce medical red tape by creating a standard prior authorization form for medical procedures and prescription drugs," Vansickle said. "Both Texas and California have successfully passed legislation to standardize the prior authorization process. "

The survey, which went by e-mail to both FMA members and non-members, drew 562 responses.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.