Health Care Law is Bigger Challenge for Some States

Eight states — Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas — will confront the most daunting task in handling an influx of new Medicaid patients once the federal health care law takes final effect in 2014, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman reports , citing a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine.

Though all states will face budget headaches as a result of the Affordable Care Act — which expands the joint state-federal Medicaid program — the eight cited by the study also have doctor shortages that will make it difficult for patients to find a physician once they become eligible for government insurance, the study says. "In the absence of additional efforts," according to the study, "the demand for care by newly insured patients could outstrip the supply of primary care providers in these states." the study says.

Oklahoma faces the biggest challenge in the nation. High rates of poverty and of uninsured residents make it hard to recruit and retain physicians, but demand will surge over the coming years as the patient base expands. About 250,000 additional state residents are expected to receive Medicaid once the federal government's new rules take effect in 2014, The Oklahoman notes, citing an analysis done for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, a state agency.

"Even though our capacity is sufficient now, it is absolutely going to be an issue when we get to 2014," the deputy chief executive of the agency tells the paper.

Like many Republican chief executives, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has been fighting the Affordable Care Act, and her spokesman pointed to the New England Journal of Medicine's study as evidence that the law is unfeasible for many states.

"In addition to raising taxes, reducing choice and increasing the size of government, the federal health care law shifts costs and Medicaid responsibilities to the states, " her spokesman tells The Oklahoman . " That's just one of the many reasons the governor is doing everything she can to fight this dangerous and unaffordable law."