House Medicaid Bill Out

By: Jim Saunders, Health News Florida
By: Jim Saunders, Health News Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, March 7, 2011 --

More patient and less confrontational than the Senate, the Florida House has released a proposal to transform Medicaid into a statewide managed-care program during the next five years.

The House proposal, posted on its website without any fanfare, appears to largely mirror a bill that the House passed last year. The Senate did not approve that bill, so lawmakers will have to again work on a compromise on a Medicaid overhaul during the legislative session that starts Tuesday.

Both the House and Senate have the same goal: shifting hundreds of thousands of low-income and elderly people into managed-care plans.

But they take vastly different approaches. The House bill eschews the Senate's threats to begin having Florida run the program itself -- and potentially give up billions of dollars in federal money -- if Washington doesn't go along with proposed changes.

Also, the House bill would phase in mandatory managed-care enrollment over a five-year period, with implementation for the first group starting July 1, 2012. The Senate's new managed-care system would start operating in early 2012 and be fully in place in 2013.

Another major difference is that the House would include Medicaid beneficiaries who have developmental disabilities, such as autism and mental retardation. That group is not part of the Senate Medicaid plan, which was released in February.

Both bills would carve the state into regions, where HMOs and other types of plans, such as provider service networks, would compete to win contracts. But the House would split the state into seven regions, while the Senate proposes 19.

The proposed House changes would start taking effect July 1, 2012, for seniors who need long-term care services. Implementation would start Jan. 1, 2013, for a more-general Medicaid population, such as women and children. It would start Jan. 1, 2015, for people with developmental disabilities.

House leaders have said for weeks that they expected to use the bill that the House passed last year as a starting point for this year's Medicaid deliberations.

The House Proposed Committee Bill is PCB HHSC 11-01.


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