Key Senator Backs Medicaid Change

Feb 26, 2019

The Senate’s top health-care budget writer wants to make permanent the elimination of Medicaid retroactive eligibility. 

Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said the state cannot afford to return to a longstanding policy that allowed Medicaid patients three months to apply for coverage while the state and federal government paid the costs of care.

“The policy (change) is reasonable,” Bean, who filed a bill (SB 192) last week to make the change permanent, told The News Service of Florida.

In a move that was projected to save $98 million, the Legislature last year approved allowing state Medicaid officials to seek federal approval for the change. Instead of giving patients 90 days to choose a Medicaid managed-care plan, the state now requires that the patients immediately enroll in a plan.

About 39,000 poor, elderly and disabled Floridians are impacted by the change, which took effect Feb. 1. Lawmakers included the change in the budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 which expires June 30.

That means unless lawmakers pass a bill to make the cut permanent, the change will expire. Bean said he expects his bill “could get some heat” when it is heard in committee but that he’s ready to defend the policy.

Without it, Bean said lawmakers would be forced to come up with additional reductions. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year also calls for the change to be made permanent. The 60-day annual legislative session begins March 5.