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Real estate booms near Inner Harbor, but Medicaid program takes a hit

It’s been an exciting, eventful week for the area east of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Several new development projects for that area were introduced in recent days, building on the momentum started last week by a Cordish Cos. proposal to revamp Pier 5 and Pier 6.

To recap: The Cordish Cos. project is a $450 million doozy that involves building a new 15,000-seat arena and a new outdoor amphitheater on the site of the current Pier 6 Pavilion. The proposal also calls for building a pedestrian bridge that would stretch to the other side of the harbor.

This week also saw a proposal to build a 15-story apartment tower at 801 Eastern Ave., currently filled by the shuttered Della Notte Ristorante. The site is prime real estate: right past the flashy Harbor East neighborhood and on the doorstep of the ever-charming Little Italy.

Another venture, reviewed by city officials Thursday, would bring nearly 300 apartments and 50 condos to 700 S. Eden St., just a few blocks further east. City officials also approved plans for the 17-story Point Street Apartment Tower, which would be built at Harbor Point.

Nothing like a skyline full of tower cranes to boost neighborhood pride — and possibly property values.

Unfortunately, a booming real estate market won’t do much to lift the spirits of people affected by Gov. Larry Hogan’s cuts to Medicaid.

Two groups of people are affected: providers who see Medicaid patients, and the Medicaid beneficiaries themselves. By slashing the Medicaid reimbursement rate, the state could save about $160 million in fiscal 2016.

But, a lower rate means physicians get paid less money for each Medicaid patient they see. That could result in fewer doctors accepting Medicaid as a form of insurance coverage, which, in turn, might make it harder for people on Medicaid to find a doctor.

If beneficiaries don’t have a primary care doctor, their health could suffer and they might end up seeking care in the emergency room, even for routine issues like the flu. And because emergency room care is exponentially more expensive, this may be a lose-lose situation down the line.

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.