Senate overhauls Medicaidby Dara Kam | March 31st, 2010
The Senate approved a sweeping overhaul of Medicaid that would require some Medicaid recipients to pay deductibles and co-payments and give vouchers to others for medical care.
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, introduced what he called the “transformative” change as an amendment to the budget (SB 2700), which drew criticism from Democrats who objected the major changes should have been debated in committees.
The proposal would give state health care officials the authority to develop a new waiver program for Florida’s $18 billion Medicaid program. Federal officials would have to approve the waiver.
Negron said the time is urgent because the federal health care reforms signed into law by President Barack Obama could significantly increase the state’s spending on Medicaid, the health care program for the poor.
“The reason we can’t put money into education into other areas of the budget is because…they just come hand us an invoice, you owe us $1.8 billion more this year.
I don’t know why it should be entitled to preferential treatment over all the other needs of the state,” Negron said. “The time right now is urgent.”
The proposal is “a wholesale change of one of the largest and most important programs in this state,” objected Democrat Nan Rich, vice chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.
“This is a huge policy and appropriations issue. It does not belong passed or defeated on this floor today. It needs to go to substantive committees,” said Rich, D-Weston.
The amendment passed by a 24-12 vote.