Medicaid Eligibility Change Keeps Moving In Senate

Mar 14, 2019

The Senate continues to move along a bill that would make permanent the elimination of a 90-day Medicaid retroactive eligibility period. 

Over the objections of AARP Florida and other advocates for elderly and disabled people, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday voted 6-4 to approve the bill (SB 192), which could save $103 million in state and federal Medicaid funding.

All of the Democrats on the panel voted against the bill. But Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, said he thought providers should be able to quickly respond to the changes and ensure that Medicaid applications are immediately submitted.

The Legislature agreed to eliminate Medicaid retroactive eligibility last year at the behest of former Gov. Rick Scott. But the change was included only in the budget, which means the policy is scheduled to expire at the June 30 end of the fiscal year.

As a result, the Senate bill seeks to make the cut permanent. Under normal Medicaid regulations, patients have a 90-day period to apply for benefits.

The new Florida policy requires residents to apply for Medicaid the same month in which they became eligible. Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said the state is moving ahead with making the policy permanent because it wants patients to enter the Medicaid managed-care system as soon as they qualify for Medicaid. If they don’t enter the managed-care system, Medicaid pays the bills on a fee-for-service basis.

“We are already paying managed care, that’s why we’re doing this,” Bean said.

About 3.9 million Floridians are enrolled in Medicaid, and the program has estimated expenditures for the upcoming 2019-2020 state fiscal year of $28.2 billion.