Policy makers and researchers are eager to learn the effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) and its many provisions, but to date, they have been frustrated by the dearth of robust evidence on the ACA’s true impacts on important health care and patient outcomes (e.g., access to primary care services). The present limitations of evidence, often a consequence of delays and inconsistencies in the law’s implementation, have begun to affect policy making in the ACA’s wake.
In this article, we consider the ongoing debates among state and federal policy makers aboutwhether to extend the ACA’s so-called fee bump provision, whereby Medicaid fees for primary care services were increased to 100 percent of Medicare levels during 2013 and 2014. We describe the difficulties state Medicaid programs have experienced in implementing the fee bump as well as how the resulting evidence gap and the broader political context today shape the deliberations. To conclude, we identify policy alternatives and other factors policy makers should consider when deciding whether to extend the fee bump.