Florida Lawmakers to Use Session to Brood Over Medicaid

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Tamecka Pierce is trying to explain Medicaid reform to her three children. They drove all the way up from Orlando because they’re worried about the push to switch Medicaid recipients to a managed care program.

Pierce fears they’ll have less control over their care.

“A lot of people who are going to suffer from this program are elderly and children, and people who have ongoing medical problems like myself,” she says.

Legislators crafting the reform package are hearing lots of concerns. Pediatric Cardiologist Louis St. Petery says for children, at least, the system works fine the way it is.

Dr. Louis St. Petery says, “There’s no empirical data out there to suggest that Medicaid HMOs are going to save money. Why disrupt all of these kids and their families and push them into Medicaid HMOs? “

Many argue a week-long special session just isn’t enough time to change healthcare for more than two million Floridians.

But Jeb bush says they’ve been working on the proposal for more than a year and it’s time to get it done, and he says it’s not just about saving money.

Gov. Jeb Bush says, “In terms of customer service, in terms of the respect and the dignity that Medicaid recipients deserve, the system we have right now is not adequate.”

The reform plan would only affect Broward and Duval Counties at first, but Jeb Bush is pushing to take it statewide. Florida’s current Medicaid system eats up about a quarter of the state’s $63 billion budget.