Governor John Lynch today criticized LRGHealthcare's decision to deny access to health care for patients covered by Medicaid.
Physician practices owned by LRGHealthcare, which operates Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Hospital, began sending letters to Medicaid patients last week stating they will no longer receive services through LRGH's physician network and must now find new primary care providers.
Neither LRGHealthcare, nor its physician practices, provided any notice to state officials who oversee the Medicaid program that they were taking this action. According to public statements by LRGH, they've sent letters to 3,500 patients. The state has been unable to confirm that number, or what patients are affected.
The letter, sent by the physician practice groups, cites the state's Medicaid reimbursement policy as the reason for the change. However, the state has not reduced its reimbursement rate for physician services. The legislature did make changes in the disproportionate share program that cut funding for hospitals statewide -- that reduction was one of the reasons Governor Lynch did not sign the state budget. Franklin Regional Hospital was exempted from that reduction.
LRG Healthcare has joined other hospitals in filing a lawsuit regarding the reductions.
"LRGHealthcare's decision to drop Medicaid patients is irresponsible and unnecessary," Governor Lynch said, pointing out that patients are being dropped from services where rates have remained stable, not services where rates have been cut.
"It seems LRG Healthcare is punishing patients to advance its political and legal case. It is completely irresponsible for LRGH to deny access to health care to those citizens who can least afford it -- and it is contrary to its mission as a nonprofit."
"Given LRGH's decision to walk away from a large part of its nonprofit mission, I think it would be appropriate for the Attorney General to review whether LRG Healthcare, and its associated primary care practices, still warrant nonprofit status," Governor Lynch said.