Florida Seniors Consider Long-Term Care

The senior advocacy group released a poll Monday bashing the state’s plan to enroll thousands of seniors in a mandatory managed care program, but the state says its reform proposal is all about choice, and seniors shouldn’t be worried.

Seventy-seven-year-old Earl Dobert doesn’t want to have his long-term care decisions made by some bureaucrat with the state.

Earl Dobert says, "I’ve seen the government try to manage affairs for people and they seem to have a long history of failure doing that. I would prefer not to be a member of that clan."

Dobert and volunteers with AARP went door to door in the Capitol, leaving copies of AARP’s latest survey for lawmakers. The survey found three out of four Floridians think seniors on Medicaid should choose their own long-term care services.

Bentley Lipscomb with AARP says, "We don’t oppose managed care. What we oppose is forcing older people who do not wish to go into managed care to take managed care or receive no services whatsoever."

But the state says the mandatory pilot program setting up in northwest Florida this fall actually offers more choices than the seniors there currently have. More choice, the state says, is the whole point of the governor’s reform effort.

Jonathan Burns with the Agency for Healthcare Administration says the managed care plan they ultimately want to take statewide will offer in-home services that Medicaid doesn’t even cover now.

Jonathan Burns says, "While this program is mandatory, it’s going to give participants more choice."

But the reform plan still needs state lawmakers to sign off, and seniors who aren’t thrilled with it say they’ll push hard this spring to make sure their voices are heard.

The mandatory managed care program for seniors on Medicaid is slated to start as a pilot program this fall in Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton Counties.

A voluntary managed care program will be offered in the Orlando area. State lawmakers would have to agree before the program could be taken statewide.