A consumer called our helpline because he has Medicaid and can’t find a primary care provider in New Haven who takes Medicaid and will take a new patient. He tried looking on the DSS Provider Directory Search and called the doctors listed there. They weren’t taking new Medicaid patients. He tried asking his specialist, who didn’t know of any Medicaid PCPs who were taking new patients. The Yale clinic he tried wasn’t taking new patients either. When he went to the Hill Health Center for an alarming medical issue, they told him he should go see his specialist – and not because that was the specialist’s area of expertise.
I gave him a few suggestions: try looking up doctors besides general practitioners (there’s only one listed in New Haven) like internists or family practitioners and try looking them up in the towns near New Haven. He could also try some of the other community health centers in the area. I also suggested that he ask his specialist to help him find a primary care doctor and maybe his specialist could put a little pressure on another doctor to take a new Medicaid patient. He said he hadn’t thought of that but he wasn’t convinced it would work because his specialist doesn’t spend much time with him. The clinic sets aside Thursday afternoons to see Medicaid clients and he said his doctor spends about five minutes with him and gets testy if he asks too many questions. But he said he’d try at his next appointment to ask her for a referral.
This consumer would have been helped by a medical home. Medical homes offer coordinated, comprehensive primary health care that is accessible, continuous, compassionate, culturally appropriate, and patient-centered. If Medicaid patients started out with medical homes, this patient wouldn’t have had this problem. He would have had someone to coordinate his care and find and make appointments with the other doctors he needs.