Medicaid: The Definition of Podiatrist as Physician

Foot and ankle surgeons continue to fight to have DPMs classified as “physicians” under the Medicaid program, including seeking to include this change in any health system reform legislation that is enacted. Because DPMs are not classified as physicians, paying DPMs for “physician services” is optional. 

This is extremely problematic. States have significant discretion in administering their Medicaid programs, and they can change their payment policy at any time during a year. Because most states have balanced budget requirements, podiatric surgical services under Medicaid are an easy target for cuts. 

Patients are the ultimate victims of this policy. Foot and ankle surgeons provide critical foot care services to high-risk Medicaid patients, particularly diabetics. Maintaining this continuity of care is essential to preventing amputations and other complications. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that Medicare has classified podiatrists (foot and ankle surgeons) as physicians for a number of years.  

ACFAS urges its members to educate their representatives in Congress on the urgency of making this important change. Access your federal legislators contact information at congress.gov/members.

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