Medicaid Funds Run Short

Unless the Georgia Assembly approves a mid-year budget this week, the state's Medicaid program could run out of money next week, according to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Other Georgia lawmakers say the situation isn't that severe. Georgia's Medicaid program provides basic health care for nearly one and a half million people in the Peach State. Now, state leaders are nearing a Friday deadline to continue funding the program.

Some medical providers say they've already seen slowdowns in Medicaid payments from the state.

"I just spoke with our administrator and he has mentioned that we have had some delays in getting paid on Medicaid, but it hasn't been a large problem at this time, at least not for us," says Dr. Craig Bishop, a family practice doctor.

Dr. Bishop says it could be a serious problem for medical providers like OB-GYNs because Medicaid patients make up nearly 80 percent of their customers.

"For those individuals it could mean not being able to pay your nurses, pay your employees and it could actually shut businesses and practices down," says Dr. Bishop.

The Medicaid funding situation could be fixed if state lawmakers can agree on how to keep money flowing into the program by next week. Either way, doctors say Medicaid patients will not have to turn to emergency rooms for care because they will continue to provide medical care.

"We're here to help the community and serve the community, and if we don't get paid we're still going to see Medicaid patients, and we'll still accept them."

Several Georgia doctors say they think lawmakers will make some kind of quick fix because so many people rely on Medicaid.