Maine: Low Reimbursements Complicate Physician Recruitment Efforts

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that while malpractice insurance rates are low in Maine and physician services are in demand amid new construction projects, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements are also low, complicating area physician recruitment efforts.

According to the new Portland, Maine, Market Overview, increasing numbers of Maine physicians are practicing in hospital-based and hospital-affiliated practices to benefit from better reimbursements on MaineCare and Medicare services. Industry groups estimate more than 75 percent of physicians statewide are affiliated with a hospital, although the number may be less in the Portland, Maine, area.

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The most recent conversion took place in October 2008, with the merger of Southern Maine Medical Center and the multispecialty medical group PrimeCare Physician Associates to form Southern Maine Medical Center PrimeCare Physicians. With more than 1,200 employees, it has become one of York County's largest employers.

"While health system affiliation decreases physician independence, physicians in Maine are benefiting not only from improved reimbursement rates, but also from the increased access to technology that a large health system may provide," said Chris Clancy, analyst with HealthLeaders-InterStudy. "Specifically, the integration means physicians will be better equipped to transfer to electronic medical records, making healthcare processes more timely and convenient."

On the recruitment front, efforts are underway to attract physicians to the state. In February 2008, MaineHealth's Maine Medical Center announced a partnership with Boston's Tufts University School of Medicine, where Tufts medical students will serve the third and part of the fourth year of their studies in Maine. Starting in 2011, 20 of the program's 36 seats will be reserved for Maine students, who will receive subsidized tuition.

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