Recent changes to Medicaid in the state mean government is no longer footing the bill for some services.
Melvin Wilcutt has painful problems with his feet, caused from years of walking rounds as a security guard.
“I’ve been through a couple surgeries on my left foot and was expected to have a couple on the right foot,? Wilcutt said.
But he said recent state changes to Medicaid mean the treatment for his foot isn’t covered anymore.
“There’s nothing I could do. So I have to suffer with the pain and the anguish of the situation. It’s not very fair,? Wilcutt said.
A memo from the state Department of Health and Welfare sent to podiatrists said Medicaid will reimburse for preventative care or for treatment of acute foot conditions only if the patient has a chronic condition with vascular restrictions such as diabetes.
The department’s spokesman, Tom Shanahan, said changes to Medicaid are part of a statewide effort to save money on services that aren’t mandated by the federal government.
“We did have to reduce services to some adults — for example, in vision services, in podiatry, in chiropractic services,? Shanahan said.
Local podiatrist Brent Christensen said the changes in the law have been far from clear.
“It was very confusing for myself and the patients. Patients didn’t know, and I got a lot of phone calls, ‘Is this service covered? is it not?'” Christensen said.
But he said in his experience, it hasn’t been as bad as he first feared.
“The number of people that we have discovered who don’t qualify for podiatric services are relatively few and far between,? Christensen said.
Officials with the Department of Health and Welfare said the most important things are still covered.
“If someone does have an acute condition which is going to cause further damage down the road that is still covered. If someone does break a foot that would be covered,? Shanahan said.
Other local podiatrists said they believe these changes will end up costing the government money, causing more people go to the emergency room for treatment.
Officials with the Department of Health and Welfare said Melvin Wilcutt’s treatment could actually be covered by Medicaid. He was encouraged to check again with his doctor.