Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 8:00 am
State health policy experts said Thursday prospects for expanding Medicaid in the Legislature this year remain dim because of unwillingness in the leadership and possibly fatal flaws in the two leading proposals. And those experts warn another refusal could come with a stunning economic cost for Florida.
Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 7:36 pm
The Senate says it would consider expanding Florida's Medicaid program to nearly a million more low-income Floridians. The House is continuing to say no.
The federal government’s deal with Indiana to expand that state’s Medicaid program could boost the prospect of expansion in Florida. Indiana’s Medicaid expansion program includes co-pays and premiums for low-income people—something popular among republicans. Senate President Andy Gardiner says Indiana has caught his chamber’s attention.
Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Wednesday said his chamber has "no plans" to expand Medicaid coverage to an additional 800,000 residents during the upcoming legislative session.
"We do not plan to do anything on Medicaid expansion," Crisafulli told reporters and editors at the annual Associated Press Legislative Planning Day at the Capitol. "I am a never-say-never kind of guy, and certainly anything can come about that provides opportunity, but at this time we do not plan to hear Medicaid expansion."
Hillsborough County hospitals are scheduled to lose more than $151 million a year in funds for care of the uninsured beginning June 30, according to a report released Thursday.
The scheduled changes to two revenue streams “represent a tremendous loss of federal funding to the county and pose a significant risk,” warns the report by the Community Justice Project, part of Florida Legal Services.
Statewide, the coming annual loss will be $2.1 billion, estimates co-author Charlotte Cassel.
Florida's Legislature has twice turned down proposals to provide health insurance for nearly 1 million state residents. And the new House Speaker on Wednesday said he had “no plans” to expand Medicaid for the people caught in the so-called coverage gap.
But still state business leaders – and some mayors – continue to rally and aim to take another swing at it when the Legislature convenes March 3.
The deal reached Tuesday between the Obama administration and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to expand Medicaid under the president’s health law should help sway reluctant Republican officials in other states because it imposes new costs on poor adults, promotes healthy behaviors and relies on financing from smokers and hospitals instead of state taxpayers, health experts say.
Florida health officials and lawmakers are facing a quandary over how to replace the likely annual loss of $1.3 billion in federal funds which compensate hospitals and providers that care for large numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients.
The state has known for some time that the so-called low-income pool funding will likely end in June. It's still unclear what the bottom line impact will be on the state budget, but the seemingly inevitable loss in hospital funding could be just the ammunition that Medicaid expansion proponents have been looking for.
Florida’s safety-net hospitals stand to lose 15 percent of the money it receives from Medicaid next year, if state and federal officials don’t renew an agreement to cover care for poor state residents.
Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 10:50 am
The pro-business Florida Chamber of Commerce has unveiled its health priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
The list includes big battles of years past—like letting some nurses and physician assistants expand their scope-of-practice, revamping the rules regarding medical lawsuits and possibly expanding the state’s Medicaid program for low-income Floridians. But that last part comes with a caveat--like capping how much Medicaid can take up in overall state spending.
A new health-care policy plan from the Florida Chamber of Commerce backs an expansion of health coverage under an alternative to Medicaid expansion, the Florida Times-Union reports. The chamber president says they “largely agree" with the "A Healthy Florida Works” plan backed by several Florida business groups.
In spite of massive conservative efforts to derail the Affordable Care Act, the train continues to lumber down the track. The Washington Post writes that at least 7.1 million people so far have enrolled in 2015 health plans. Somewhat short of projected enrollment with many states such as Florida instituting effective sign-up obstacles, the plan known as Obamacare marches on.
Fourteen states running their own alternative sign-ups can claim 633,000 enrollees. Florida projections suggest more than 1 million will be signed up through government exchanges by the deadline, February 15.
Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 7:05 am
Health care advocates gathered across Florida today — in Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee, and Miami — calling on the state to accept federal funds and expand its Medicaid program.
A handful of people gathered in outside the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in Miami, several with big black circles painted under their eyes, making them appear sickly. Others wore face masks with slogans like “no coverage equals death” written on them.
Andy Pasternak, a family doctor in Reno, Nev., has seen more than 100 new Medicaid patients this year after the state expanded the insurance program under the Affordable Care Act.
But he won’t be taking any new ones after Dec. 31. That’s when the law’s two-year pay raise for primary care doctors like him who see Medicaid patients expires, resulting in fee reductions of 43 percent on average across the country, according to the nonpartisan Urban Institute.
Governors across the political spectrum are hitting a roadblock in their bids to expand Medicaid with federal funds: Republican legislators who adamantly oppose "Obamacare."
While some of these governors themselves have criticized the president's health care law in general, they've come to see one component — Medicaid expansion — as too generous to reject. But they're battling conservative lawmakers who say it's better to turn down billions of federal dollars than to expand Medicaid under the 2010 law.
If Florida were to expand Medicaid, it would translate into $5 billion pumped into the state a year as the federal government pays for the new benefits.
Non-expansion would mean that the public continues to pay for the treatment of uninsured, but without an annual $2 billion dollar reimbursement from a federal program that is scheduled to end this summer.
Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner is leaving open the possibility that his chamber will consider an expansion of health care coverage for low-income Floridians.
“Intriguing" was the word Gardiner used on Wednesday for a plan from business and hospital leaders that would accept billions of dollars under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers. The plan, called "A Healthy Florida Works," was introduced last week.
Arkansas became the first Southern state to expand its Medicaid program in a way that many Republicans found acceptable. The state bought private insurance for low-income people instead of adding them to the rolls of the Medicaid system, which GOP lawmakers considered bloated and inefficient.
Now Arkansas could be on the brink of another distinction: becoming the first to abandon its Medicaid expansion after giving coverage to thousands of people.
Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 12:45 pm
Following the lead of other Republican governors, Tennessee's Gov. Bill Haslam is moving to expand Medicaid in his state, using federal funds from the Affordable Care Act. Haslam announced the plan Monday morning; it'll be debated by the legislature next month.
From Nashville, Bobby Allyn of member station WPLN reports:
Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 4:15 pm
A coalition of businesses groups, local officials and healthcare industry representatives has rolled out a plan to insure nearly one million low-income Floridians. But they’re not calling it a Medicaid Expansion.
More than 800,ooo Floridians are in health insurance limbo. They fall into what’s called the Medicaid coverage gap. Reed Mahoney of Tallahassee, is among them.
If Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has a chance, she wants to talk with Florida leaders about expanding Medicaid in Florida.
Burwell was at Florida Hospital in Orlando Tuesday promoting open enrollment on the federal HealthCare.gov insurance exchange.
She said in an interview with Health News Florida that she’s trying to understand why Florida’s legislature has decided to not expand the government health coverage for the poor. She said she’s open to talking about Medicaid expansion with legislative leaders and Governor Rick Scott.
When the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace opened last year, Beth and Doug Warner of St. Petersburg asked a navigator to enroll them. But they discovered their income wasn’t high enough to get a subsidy.
Without one, Doug Warner said, the policy for the couple would cost $700 a month. “Basically the choice was, ‘Keep the roof over your head or buy healthcare.'”
It’s one of the great ironies of the health overhaul. Floridians most in need of health insurance -- adults below the poverty line -- are often blocked from coverage the Affordable Care Act provides.
Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 5:41 pm
A new coalition combining local business and health care groups is pushing a plan to insure more than a million Floridians who currently fall in the so-called Medicaid coverage gap.
More than a million Floridians make too much money to qualify for Medicaid under the state’s current income limits, but too little to qualify for insurance subsidies in the federally-run insurance exchange. The Florida legislature has twice rejected plans to expand Medicaid to those people.
A report released Monday by Florida Legal Services, a non-profit legal advocate for the poor, says hospitals that treat large numbers of patients without health insurance stand to lose billions because of the Florida Legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid, the Miami Herald reports.
With sign-up season launching this weekend, officials sharply dialed down expectations Monday for the second year of President Barack Obama’s health insurance law.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said she’s aiming to have 9.1 million paying customers enrolled in 2015 for subsidized private coverage through HealthCare.gov and state insurance markets.
That’s more than now, but well below the 13 million that the Congressional Budget Office had projected.
Tuesday’s re-election of Republican governors in closely contested races in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas dims the chances of Medicaid expansion in those states.
Advocates hoping for Democratic victories in those states were disappointed by the outcomes, but Alaska, which also has a Republican incumbent, remains in play as an independent challenger holds a narrow lead going into a count of absentee ballots.
Democratic candidate Judithanne McLauchlan, who was inspired to run for Florida Senate District 22 against incumbent Republican Jeff Brandes because he was the only vote in the Senate against an alternative to Medicaid expansion, lost 57 percent to 43 percent.
During the 2013 Legislative session, Brandes was the lone vote against state Sen. Joe Negron’s alternative to Medicaid expansion. The plan, which would have drawn down $51 billion in federal funding over 10 years under the Affordable Care Act, was ultimately defeated by the Republican-controlled House.