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FL Privatized Medicaid Hits a Snag

September 19, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida wants to get out of the business of running Medicaid. The state is trying to turn the program over to private health care companies. Six years ago, it started the move by creating a five-county pilot program to experiment in Medicaid managed care. The federal government had to approve the pilot, and now it's time for a renewal. But the feds want a guarantee that 85 percent of the Medicaid money is going to actual patient care.

Gregg Mellowe with the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, has been tracking the program's glitches.

"There have been concerns over the lack of accountability in the pilot project throughout its five years. And the concerns that they've had have not been resolved. I think that's been pretty much universally recognized."

Earlier in the year, the legislature approved a plan to take Medicaid Managed Care statewide. It would turn the entire $22 billion program over to private health care companies. Lawmakers say this will rein in costs.

State Senator Joe Negron from Palm City is the architect of Florida's statewide Managed Care plans.

"There are going to be a lot of areas where the federal government and the state government see the world differently. We all knew that this was one."

So, talks between the state and the Federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services continue. The statewide expansion is still being negotiated as well, and the state will keep pushing the federal government to allow it to implement its own plan.

More information is at www.fcfep.org

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL