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Many physicians give thumbs up to Medicaid work requirements, Merritt Hawkins survey says

"The survey strongly suggests that the majority of physicians would like to move away from the Medicaid status quo," Merritt Hawkins EVP says.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Requirements that those on Medicaid be required to work or participate in employment activities as a condition of coverage have proven contentious both publicly and politically, but a new survey from physician search firm Merritt Hawkins shows that three out of four physicians favor that federal policy.

The single-question survey, which was conducted by email in early March and was completed by 667 physicians, asked physicians what their position is on the new Medicaid work requirement policy. Roughly 56 percent said they view the policy "very favorably" and 17.8 percent said they felt "somewhat favorably." About 9 percent of physicians gave the work requirement a "very unfavorably" vote and about 8 percent said they felt "somewhat unfavorably." The remaining 8 percent of physicians were neutral.  

"The survey strongly suggests that the majority of physicians would like to move away from the Medicaid status quo," said Travis Singleton, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins. "Many physicians have been frustrated for years because Medicaid often pays less than their costs of providing care. Physicians have to limit the number of Medicaid patients they treat for that reason and want to focus on those who need care the most."

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Merritt Hawkins said the survey had a margin of error of less than 1 percent.   

According to Reuters, in early March Arkansas became the third state to adopt the requirements, which stipulate that Medicaid beneficiaries work, participate in job training or job search activities to maintain their benefits. Those who fail to meet the requirements for three months out of a plan year could not re-enroll until the following plan year. There is no clear word on when the requirement takes effect. Kentucky and Indiana have also submitted and have had requests approved for their own similar Medicaid work requirements.

"It remains to be seen whether the policy can be carried out fairly and effectively," said Singleton.  "But in concept, it appears to have the endorsement of most physicians."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com