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Judge OKs Physicians United Liquidation

Florida Court System
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

About 31,000 Florida seniors will need to change their Medicare Advantage plans.

A Tallahassee judge on Monday approved the Department of Financial Services' request to take over and liquidate Physicians United HMO, effective July 1.

Recent financial reports show that Physicians United was nearly $13 million in debt and couldn't pay many health-care providers.

But health plan analyst Allan Baumgarten says more than 21,000 policy holders live in Central Florida or around Tampa Bay.

“The state will ensure that they have the ability to enroll in another Medicare Advantage HMO of their choice in that service area, which I think in this case is mostly around Orlando,” he said.

Those seniors won't lose coverage and can enroll in new plans approved in their region, Baumgarten said.

"It may require a change in doctor and that can be disruptive, particularly to a senior who may have an established relationship with a particular primary care doctor or specialist," he said. “Because it could be the doctor they are seeing now may not be in the network of the new health plans they are given to choose from.”

The state's Department of Financial Services is in charge of the financial takeover. But the actual transition for seniors will be handled by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

That agency will contact all policy holders by mail. They also can call 1 800 MEDICARE, a DFS spokeswoman said.

Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF.