SC docs face rate cuts for Medicaid patients

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina likely won't be reimbursing doctors as much for treating poor, disabled and elderly patients, though it's unlikely providers would deny those patients health care despite rate cuts.

The state-federal health care program faces a budget deficit of $228 million this year and a $663 million shortfall beginning July 1 and Medicaid officials want an end to a 2008 law that bars lower rates and is meant to protect doctors from losing money.

The cuts aren't expected to shut down access to doctors who say they already struggle to break even under the program, but hospitals receiving less money may have to lay off staff and charge more for patients who buy private insurance.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)