Primary Care Clinicians’ Views About the Impact of Medicaid Expansion in Michigan: A Mixed Methods Study

Michigan's approach to Medicaid expansion, the Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP), emphasizes primary care, prevention, and incentives for patients and primary care practitioners (PCPs).ObjectiveAssess PCPs' perspectives about the impact of HMP on their patients and practices.

In 2014-2015, we conducted semi-structured interviews then a statewide survey of PCPs.SettingInterviewees came from varied types of practices in five Michigan regions selected for racial/ethnic diversity and a mix of rural and urban settings. Surveys were sent via mail.

Interviewees were physician (n = 16) and non-physician practitioners (n = 3). All Michigan PCPs caring for ≥ 12 HMP enrollees were surveyed (response rate 55.5%, N = 2104).MeasurementsPCPs' experiences with HMP patients and recent changes in their practices.

Interviews include examples of the impact of Medicaid expansion on patients and practices. A majority of surveyed PCPs reported recent increases in new patients (52.3%) and patients who had not seen a PCP in many years (56.2%). For previously uninsured patients, PCPs reported positive impact on control of chronic conditions (74.4%), early detection of serious illness (71.1%), medication adherence (69.1%), health behaviors (56.5%), emotional well-being (57.0%), and the ability to work, attend school, or live independently (41.5%). HMP patients reportedly still had more difficulty than privately insured patients accessing some services. Most PCPs reported that their practices had, in the past year, hired clinicians (53.2%) and/or staff (57.5%); 15.4% had colocated mental health care. Few (15.8%) reported established patients' access to urgent appointments worsened.

PCP reports of patient experiences may not be accurate. Results reflect the experiences of PCPs with ≥ 12 Medicaid patients. Differences between respondents and non-respondents present the possibility for response bias.

PCPs reported improved patient access to care, medication adherence, chronic condition management, and detection of serious illness. Established patients' access did not diminish, perhaps due to reported practice changes.