Medicaid Waiver Approved by Feds

Florida CHAIN

For Immediate Release:  Friday, June 14, 2013

Media Contacts: Leah Barber-Heinz, [email protected], 850-294-6087, or Laura Goodhue, [email protected], 954-213-8647

Medicaid Waiver Approved by Feds

In response to the announcement that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has granted Florida final approval of its request for a waiver to expand its Medicaid managed care experiment statewide, Florida CHAIN issued the following statement:

“The final agreement between federal officials and Florida allowing the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care initiative to move forward gives patients reason both to hope and to be vigilant.

“Most importantly, federal permission to require most of the 3.3 million vulnerable Floridians who must rely on Medicaid to enroll in HMOs or HMO-like plans comes with strict accountability requirements and patient protections that are among the strongest in the nation. These include a requirement that all plans spend a set amount on direct care, phased in implementation and increased stakeholder involvement. While some of the most glaring problems with the original five-county “Medicaid Reform” pilot program were addressed in 2011 when the state received approval to continue the experiment, federal officials heeded the ongoing concerns raised by patients and advocates and set the bar even higher for the statewide version.

“Despite these federal safeguards, the focus now shifts to the state and its efforts to implement this program that will affect access to care for millions of patients in all 67 counties. The countless reports of disrupted, delayed and denied care streaming in from the original five counties are still very fresh in the minds of all stakeholders. Advocates will continue to monitor implementation and call on the Agency for Health Care Administration, Florida’s Medicaid agency, to put the needs of patients above the interests of companies with a strong financial incentive to limit care.

“Medicaid managed care has a horrendous track record in Florida, and the bankruptcy and ongoing fraud investigation of Universal Healthcare provides yet another confirmation that patients and taxpayers remain at risk. Yet Medicaid HMOs just like once-praised Universal will now control access to care for almost all of Florida’s poorest children, pregnant women, seniors and people with disabilities. Patients and their families and advocates will need to be extremely vigilant and vocal as the experiment proceeds.”

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About Florida CHAIN

Florida CHAIN is a statewide advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health of all Floridians by promoting access to quality, affordable health care. CHAIN stands for Community Health Action Information. www.FloridaCHAIN.org