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Valley doctors concerned over impact of Medicare Advantage

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CANFIELD, Ohio - Valley physicians are expressing concerns over the impact on their practices and patients from cuts to the Medicare Advantage Program.

Under the Affordable Health Care Act Valley Congressman Bill Johnson said many physicians and specialists have been dropped from United Healthcare's Advantage Program. Local doctors say it's affecting access to health care.

"Some physicians of certain specialties have been completely cut in Mahoning County and even in Trumbull County, so you have to travel to Cleveland or Pittsburgh in order to get care now," said Dr. Sean McGrath of All Points Medical Group.

"You're losing the patient-physician relationship which has been developed over time with these patients. They're stable, some are in the middle of treatment, they're getting displaced and now they have to start over," McGrath said.

The Mahoning County Medical Society says in many cases patients were unaware.

"In 660 cases in Mahoning County they didn't know, they were not notified that their doctor was dropped," said the society's Executive Director Karyn Frederick.

And often, according to Frederick, the providers were not given an explanation.

"They eliminated a urology group that works out of one hospital and kept the urology group that works out of another hospital but then they dropped the hospital," Frederick said.

Dr. McGrath says it comes down to funding and the insurance companies are trying to protect their business.

"Now with this decrease in funding from the Affordable Health Care Act, they're responding," McGrath said.

Congressman Johnson says United Healthcare has been open to discussing individual cases where doctors have been dropped.

"They came back to the table as a willing partner, saw the benefit of keeping those doctors in and so far we've been able to get five physicians reinstated with United," Johnson said.

The Congressman says the cuts from Obamacare will cause senior patients to lose their long-term doctors.

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