Medicaid

Getting rid of the five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants to get health coverage through KidCare will improve health outcomes and save money, writes Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, president/CEO of the Children's Services Council of Broward County, in a column in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Seltzer is urging lawmakers to pass measures that would eliminate the waiting period and give KidCare to more than 25,000 children.  

Florida’s Republican lawmakers remain staunchly opposed to expanding Medicaid — a system they’ve repeatedly said is too expensive and doesn’t improve health outcomes. Yet Florida’s Medicaid rolls are expanding under the Affordable Care Act whether Florida likes it or not.

That’s because people trying to sign up for health insurance under President Obama’s new health law are finding out — to their surprise — that they qualify for Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor.

Broward County Commissioners are considering a $1.29 million incentive package for an unnamed health insurance company wanting to hire 265 employees in Sunrise.

The House Health & Human Services Committee on Thursday approved HB 27, which would take away $200 million in children’s dental services from the Medicaid HMOs and other plans that have already contracted with the state to provide complete medical and dental care for patients of all ages.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jose Diaz, R-Miami, passed 11 to 6.

Does the Affordable Care Act permit the government to seize assets after Medicaid patients age 55 or older die? According to the Florida Times-Union, states have had the option to do that since the Medicaid program started in 1965.

A new drug hailed as a breakthrough against hepatitis C comes at a price that  puts treatment out of reach for most who need the medication -- $84,000 for a standard 12-week course of Sovaldi, manufactured by Gilead Sciences.

Raising hopes that Medicaid expansion isn't as dead as it seems, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told Florida House Democrats on Wednesday that he is working on a solution with federal health officials -- but he wouldn't say what it was.

As The Florida Current reports, Nelson also said the state budget for 2014-15, which is being written right now, could lose $600 million in federal funds if the state doesn't compromise. He said it will be "a real shocker," but didn't elaborate.

Florida’s Medicare contractor, First Coast Service Options in Jacksonville, recently announced plans to limit coverage for follow-up drug tests, and is accepting public comment.

Behind-the-scenes negotiations between insurers are powering Florida Medicaid’s transition to statewide managed care plans, the Naples Daily News reports (paywall alert).

The Agency for Health Care Administration last year awarded contracts to 17 companies in 11 regions across Florida. That prompted 64 different legal challenges from insurers that stood to lose out on a share of an estimated $80-billion pie.  

Federal agencies are teaming up to improve oversight of nursing homes, a practice that now misses a third of the cases of substandard care, according to Kaiser Health News.

A report published this month by the non-profit Florida TaxWatch predicts significant cost savings if Florida removes the barriers to telemedicine.

The policy group's report said Florida could save more than $1 billion a year by expanding the use of telemedicine by revising current law. It criticizes policies that discourage use of telemedicine, specifically the limitations on private reimbursement requirements and Medicaid payments.

In the Miami Herald, Fabiola Santiago writes that it's negligent for lawmakers to reject more than $51 billion in federal money to provide health insurance to poor Floridians. She calls House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, a “fool” and a “hypocrite” in his fight against Medicaid expansion and resistance to alternatives drawn up by Republicans.

No one questions that assisted living facilities need to be regulated - or if they do question it, they’re being quiet about it. But there’s disagreement on how the regulation should be carried out, especially how much the fines should be.

A South Florida health plan ramped up its legal challenge to the state’s decision to award a Medicaid managed-care contract to a competitor, the News Service of Florida reports.

Care Access PSN (for "provider service network") wants the 4th District Court of Appeal to block the state's contract with Prestige Health Choice for patients in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

'Moral Monday' Ushers in 2014 Session

Mar 4, 2014
AP

With the 2014 legislative session opening Tuesday, about 400 Floridians rallied in the Capitol Courtyard for what was billed as "Moral Monday." 

Speakers at the rally called for lawmakers to expand Medicaid, stop the state's voter purge and roll back the “stand your ground” self-defense law.

None is likely to occur during the impending legislative session, but the protestors vowed to carry their concerns to the polls in the midterm elections this fall.

Florida’s 2014 Legislative session will start with the typical benign tone that comes during an election year. But it’s unclear if the Republican-led legislature can keep things status quo, the Hearld/Times Tallahassee Bureau reports.

The funding formula in Florida’s Medicaid reform law means hospitals across the state will see millions of dollars in cuts, the Tampa Bay Times reports, while a handful will see funding increase (paywall alert).

 

The federal government intends to fine Florida for what it describes as a violation of the Social Security Act -- limiting Medicaid patients' emergency room visits to six a year -- the Tampa Bay Times reports.  

In December 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  rejected the plan from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to cap the visits.

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision and Florida’s anti-Obamacare politics, legal immigrants will qualify for subsidies on health plans in this state even as citizens under the poverty level get turned away. 

As The Associated Press reports from Miami, many low-income uninsured are baffled that they don’t qualify for a tax credit.

 Though controversy over health care reform continues, America’s governors appear to agree on one thing: the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, according to the Associated Press

This weekend in Washington D.C., Republican and Democratic governors said a complete repeal of the law would be impractical, especially since states already are implementing the ACA with varying degrees of success, the AP reports.

A new study shows that critically injured patients with health insurance are more likely to stay put at non-trauma hospitals than be transferred to more skilled facilities, according to Kaiser Health News and NPR.

Efforts to clamp down on health care fraud continue across Florida, different media report.

Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s national media tour includes a fiery salvo: Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Legislature are tied to the deaths of uninsured Floridians. 

The former governor and Democratic candidate told MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” that “six people in Florida die every day as a result” of the state’s failure to expand Medicaid for the poor and uninsured.

Baby boomers have seen it coming for quite some time -- retirement, senior living and senior survival. 

Experts say most of us begin planning too late for the help we might need as we get older.

Mary Shedden / WUSF

Milagros Medina rents a room in a quiet subdivision on the outskirts of Lakeland. At 68, her arthritis, high blood pressure and chronic back pain are not going away. 

And she doesn’t want to end up in a nursing home.

This retiree who likes being called Miss Millie tries to keep going by getting help with the chores most people take for granted. She says without financial help from Florida’s Medicaid program, she couldn’t afford it. And her health would suffer.

Amid the ongoing Medicaid expansion debate, health consultant Paul Gionfriddo points to several studies that say thousands nationwide could die prematurely if Medicaid is not expanded. At his blog Our Health Policy Matters, Gionfriddo writes that lawmakers should not ignore the compelling data indicating the life and death impacts of health coverage through Medicaid.

Federal officials are lengthening a temporary moratorium on new home health care agencies in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, and have also included Broward County in the ban. As the Miami Herald reports, the six-month ban that starts today is an attempt to deter Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Federal health officials say Miami-Dade has the highest ratio of home health agencies to Medicare beneficiaries and has the biggest payments.

A bill that would provide health insurance coverage to Floridians under the poverty level by accepting federal funds available for that purpose has been filed in the Florida House of Representatives.

Following the example of private companies, Medicare is moving to limit the number of drug brands it will cover. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed to allow private prescription-drug plans under Medicare Part D to cover only some of the antidepressants on the market, not all, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

A Florida man found mentally incapable of caring for himself spent most of the $400,000 he won on a lottery scratch-off ticket and now may lose the government benefits he needs. 

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