"A big problem is the urban legend that immunizations cause autism and other problems," said O'Kane. "Providers really need to get the word out to parents that these vaccinations are safe because we're seeing outbreaks of diseases that are entirely preventable."
Charles Homer, MD, CEO of the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality, said the cost associated with some vaccinations may also be a factor in keeping vaccination rates low.
The study found that Medicaid and Medicare plans showed marked improvement in preventive care and patient satisfaction. It showed the percentage of Medicare HMO patients receiving recommended screenings for colon cancer increased from 57.6% in 2010 to 62.1% in 2012 and that the percentage of patients receiving beta-blocker treatment following a heart attack increased from 83.1% in 2010 to 88.9% in 2012.
Patient satisfaction ratings among Medicaid patients also rose. The percentage of Medicaid patients rating their primary care physician with either a 9 or a 10 increased to 63.1% in 2012 from 60.1% in 2009. During that same period, the percentage of medical specialists receiving a 9 or 10 rating increased from 62.1% to 64.4%.
The study attributed the increase in part to Medicaid Expansion under federal healthcare reform and increases in Medicaid reimbursement rates in some states. It suggested that those rate increases "send an important signal to providers that caring for Medicaid patients is financially attractive, a move that likely produced a more engaged primary care network for the safety-net system."