With the third year of open enrollment under way on, President Barack Obama is focusing his efforts on people eligible to buy policies on the insurance marketplace.

Political battles over expanding Medicaid in states including Florida are important, but not as easy to win, he told WUSF in an Oval Office interview Thursday.

WellCare Sees Increase In Earnings

Nov 5, 2015

Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, which manages care for about 800,000 people in Florida's Medicaid program, saw an increase in earnings during the third quarter of the year, according to a filing Wednesday with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.


There is a seven-county stretch in North Central Florida -- an area larger than Puerto Rico -- where every county health department has gotten out of prenatal care.

Since then, the rate of women getting in to see a doctor in the first trimester has dropped in all seven  counties.

American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2014 .

More than 67,000 Florida children gained health insurance coverage last year with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released Wednesday by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

Anthem reported a 4 percent increase in third-quarter profit and beat Wall Street forecasts as the number of people the health insurer covers edged slightly higher.


Most county health departments no longer offer services to pregnant women. But on Florida’s Space Coast, the opposite is true: The county health department offers 100 percent coverage for pregnant women.


One of the nation’s largest drug testing laboratories will pay $256 million to settle allegations it over-billed the U.S. government for urine drug tests. The Justice Department found that Millennium Health billed the government for unnecessary urine drug tests and genetic testing.

LIP Funding Not Going Up

Oct 19, 2015

The federal government isn’t changing its budget for Florida’s charity health care. 

The 22 states that didn't expand Medicaid eligibility as part of Obamacare last year saw their costs to provide health care to the poor rise twice as fast as states that extended benefits to more low-income residents.

It's a counterintuitive twist for those states whose governors, most Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, chose not to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid to more people.

State, Feds Try To Nail Down Details On 'LIP' Money

Oct 8, 2015
Agency for Health Care Administration

The state's Medicaid director said Wednesday he hopes in the coming weeks to finalize an agreement with the federal government about details for the Low Income Pool, a major hospital-funding program that spurred contentious debate earlier this year.

Daylina Miller / WUSF

Children who get health insurance through Medicaid go to the dentist about half as often as children in Florida who have private insurance, according to a new study out from the American Dental Association and the Health Policy Institute.

It seems Florida lawmakers aren't the only ones who can't agree. Residents also are divided over key economic and social issues, according to the latest release of the Sunshine State Survey.

Florida’s Low Income Pool program – the issue that brought the Legislature to an abrupt halt this spring - is receiving its fourth temporary extension to continue paying hospitals that treat uninsured people, Politico Florida reports.

Associated Press

The percentage of Americans without health insurance dropped by nearly three percentage points between 2013 and 2014, according the U.S. Census Bureau, from 13.3 to 10.4 percent. Put another way, 8.8 million more people were insured in 2014 than the year before.

Florida’s Medicaid costs will soon take up about half of the state’s new revenue. And enrollment in the program continues to grow. The increasing costs of the program has the state’s chief economist putting part of the blame on prescription drugs.

A new model of health care run by doctors and hospitals is growing and saving money in the taxpayer-funded Medicare program, according to a new report from the federal government. However, experts say most patients still don’t understand how an Accountable Care Organization works.

Bill Ties Officials' Health Coverage To Medicaid

Aug 5, 2015
Florida House

A House Republican filed a bill Tuesday that would tie health coverage for state elected officials to the benefits provided in the Medicaid program.

The bill -- HB 39 -- filed by state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, will be considered during the 2016 legislative session.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law on July 30, 1965, Americans 65 and older were the age group least likely to have health insurance.

5 Challenges Facing Medicaid At 50

Jul 28, 2015
National Institutes of Health

A “sleeper” provision when Congress created Medicare in 1965 to cover health care for seniors, Medicaid now provides coverage to nearly 1 in 4 Americans, at an annual cost of more than $500 billion. Today, it is the workhorse of the U.S. health system, covering nearly half of all births, one-third of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

Agency for Health Care Administration

The Florida Agency For Health Care Administration is demanding to see Medicaid contracts between hospitals and health insurers, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The Florida Department of Health has closed a loophole in the state’s healthcare programs for low income families. The Department has made a deal to provide dental services to foster care children in eight counties.

Study: 19 Million Uninsured If Law Repealed

Jun 22, 2015
U.S. Supreme Court

Repealing the federal health law would add an additional 19 million to the ranks of the uninsured in 2016 and increase the federal deficit over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday.

Questions As Kids Moved from Health Program

Jun 9, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

The state last month removed about 2,000 children from a specialized program that provides services to medically fragile kids, finding that they were no longer "clinically eligible" under a new screening process.

But the move by the Department of Health to re-evaluate children in the Children's Medical Services Network is drawing criticism from pediatricians and some children's advocates.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

The Central Florida YMCA got a $1.7 million grant  from the UnitedHealth Foundation. It will fund a three-year pilot program called HealthierLifeRX.

Those enrolled will spend 12 months working with a doctor and a personalized health and lifestyle coach to achieve health care goals. State Rep. Jason Brodeur said if the program is successful, he’d like to see it replicated in Medicaid.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Associated Press

A Florida children’s dentist accused of running a “house of horrors” that included performing surgical procedures without anesthetic agreed late last week to stop practicing medicine.

Dr. Howard Schneider of Jacksonville faces multiple lawsuits and his office has been picketed in recent weeks by parents carrying signs as a growing number of ex-patients complain about his practices.

In addition, Florida officials launched an investigation and attorneys said the state was working on an emergency order to shut him down.

The Obama administration has made an offer that it hopes will resolve Florida’s $1 billion state budget stalemate over health care funds for poor people.

Federal health officials agreed to extend Florida’s hospital funds for another two years, but only at about half the amount the state received last year. That means Florida lawmakers may have to dip into the state budget to fill the gap or state hospitals will get less money in the coming year.

In a letter Thursday to Gov. Rick Scott, federal officials stressed that they would not use Low Income Pool hospital funds to cover anyone who could be covered by Medicaid expansion, but they also acknowledged the loss of those funds may be difficult for the state. The current hospital funds are $2.1 billion dollars, put up by the state and federal government. The administration’s preliminary offer drops that to $1 billion for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and to $600 million the following year.

The proposal is still subject to a formal review but federal officials said they wanted to work with the state in good faith, recognizing that the Legislature needs to pass a budget by June 30 to avoid a state government shutdown.

“The decision about whether or not to expand Medicaid is a state option … (R)egardless of whether a state expands Medicaid, uncompensated care pool funding should not pay for costs that would be covered in Medicaid expansion,” federal health officials said in the letter.

The funds, which are part of a federal program that covers the hospital bills of uninsured and Medicaid patients, were supposed to end this year as President Barack Obama’s health care program grew. Patients covered by the low-income pool were supposed to be covered by Medicaid, but the Florida House and Scott have balked at expanding it.

The bitter standoff between the Republican governor and the Obama administration tore apart the state legislative session, with the House abruptly adjourning three days early last month. Scott sued the Obama administration, comparing federal officials to the TV mobster show “The Sopranos” and accusing them of withholding the hospital funds because the state wouldn’t expand Medicaid.

The dispute created a $1 billion hole in the governor’s budget that should now be much easier for lawmakers to address when they return for a special session June 1.

Scott pressed for the extension for months, even visiting Washington twice and blaming the Obama administration for ruining his budget and ignoring his timeline even though he’s known for more than a year that the funds were ending. He waited until mid-April to submit a proposal, although the months-long required public comment period made it impossible to get an answer before the Legislature adjourned last month.

The Obama administration and hospitals want the governor to expand Medicaid to more than 800,000 low-income Floridians and will not spend federal hospital funds on those who would be covered by Medicaid expansion. That’s because federal health officials say it’s more efficient to use the money to give people health insurance than to pay hospitals for caring for the uninsured retroactively.

But Scott and Republican House leaders refuse to accept any money tied to the Affordable Care Act - including Medicaid expansion. They even snubbed a Senate proposal that would eventually take billions of federal dollars and allow the Medicaid expansion recipients to buy private health insurance - a solution that Scott has fought for in the past.

The House and Senate recently announced they would discuss Medicaid expansion during the special session, snubbing the governor’s call to focus only on the budget.

Senate leaders had prepared to move ahead with a health care coverage plan during the upcoming special session, but the announcement from the federal government bolsters the argument of House Republicans who maintained that the state would continue to receive a decent chunk of the hospital money without having to expand Medicaid.

During a recent closed-door session, House and Senate budget chiefs discussed the House’s objections to the Senate’s current proposal. Senate budget chief Tom Lee agreed there were “reasonable” concerns raised about the Senate plan.

Florida Office of the Governor

Gov. Rick Scott’s new hospital commission consists of Republican donors and business leaders who will likely help him go after some of the state’s hospitals as the standoff over Medicaid expansion intensifies.

The panel, which will meet for the first time today, is beginning its work as the governor has become increasingly antagonistic toward hospitals that receive taxpayer funds in the face of a $1 billion hole in his budget.

HCA Seeks Higher Medicaid Payments To Replace LIP

May 20, 2015

Saying the Low Income Pool is "not a long-term solution and often yields inequitable results," the hospital company HCA has sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott calling for an overhaul of the way Florida pays for care of low-income patients. 

HCA, which has 46 hospitals in the state, recommended increasing base Medicaid payment rates for hospitals --- and offered the possibility of increasing a hospital-provider tax to help finance the changes. Money collected through such a tax hike could be used to draw down additional federal Medicaid funding.