Lose weight, quit smoking or lose Medicaid benefits?by Dara Kam | February 16th, 2011
Sen. Joe Negron wants fat Floridians and smokers to get healthy or else.
Included in Negron’s revamp of the state-federal Medicaid program – which Negron will release tomorrow – is a component aimed at what senators are calling “personal responsibility.”
Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who helped craft Negron’s bill, said Medicaid patients have to take control of their health care just as he had to do when his doctor told him to lose weight.
“We’re saying that an individual who’s been diagnosed as morbidly obese needs to be on a medically-directed program of weight loss to manage that health care problem that could turn into an increased taxpayer liability. The same thing with smokers,” Gaetz said.
The bill would require smokers and alcoholics and drug addicts to get treatment, Gaetz said.
Negron said his bill would include incentives for Medicaid patients to lose weight, quit smoking and stop drinking but did not give details about what they would be.
If they don’t get thinner and put down the smokes, Negron said their coverage could be cut off.
“It’s possible,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.
He said the Medicaid program currently includes a seldom-used provision that would allow the state to boot patients out.
“If you are non-compliant with your appointments, if you reject medical advice, there is a system in place under current law, which is rarely used but it has been used, …where someone would no longer receive services,” Negron said.
Healthier Medicaid patients will save the state money, Gaetz and Negron said.
“They not only compromise the quality of that person’s life they compromise the efficacy of any medical care that might be rendered but they drive up costs that are then shifted to the friends and neighbors who are actually paying the health care bill for the individual who is smoking,” Gaetz said.
The system can no longer tolerate someone “who is an alcoholic and wants to offload the medical consequences of alcoholism to the taxpayers of Florida,” Gaetz said.