Mystery Medicaid Shoppers Coming To Massachusetts?

It can be difficult to line up that first appointment with a new family doctor, but is it harder if you’re on Medicaid, or have a host of chronic ailments?

The federal government is planning a “mystery shopper” approach to find the pinch points in availability of primary care physicians, according to a Federal Register notice.

The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking approval for a study in which researchers will call more than 4,100 doctors’ offices in nine states and seek appointments posing as patients “with a range of medical needs.” Each office will get two calls, one from someone posing as a privately insured patient, and once from a simulated patient on Medicare or Medicaid.

The nine states are Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Anybody want to predict what the "mystery shopper" here in Massachusetts will encounter? I fear it won't be pretty...

Here's the Federal Register describing the plan and seeking comment. And here's another report on the plan, followed by comments.
Hat-tip to my eternal hero, Herald grad Tom Mashberg, for amazing story-spotting.

This program aired on May 5, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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