Medicaid overhaul to emerge after more closed-door talks yield compromiseby John Kennedy | May 4th, 2011
The Senate plans to move ahead with an overhaul of Florida’s Medicaid program Thursday — reviving an issue that went underground weeks ago, after the House and Senate approved rival plans.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, offered no details of what he described as an emerging compromise proposal. He also shrugged off questions about why the plan to revamp health coverage for 2.9 million low-income, elderly and disabled Floridians could only be settled far from the eyes of the public.
“There won’t be any new issues in there,” Haridopolos insisted. “We’ve been discussing it for two years.”
Senate health and human services budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and his House counterpart, Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, have been saying discussions were going well. But neither would say a word about the talks.
Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said earlier this week that to approve a Medicaid revamp now — in the waning days of the session — would be inappropriate. Instead, Thrasher said he expected a special session to be called in coming weeks.
The House and Senate both want to put most Medicaid patients into managed care programs in a bid to save money. But similarities end there.
The Senate would’ve divided the state into 19 regions,based on state court circuits. The House proposed eight regions, with Palm Beach County included with Broward, Martin, Glades and Hendry counties.
The Senate excluded developmentally disabled Floridians now served by Medicaid — a stance Haridopolos hinted Wednesday night he expected to hold in the soon-to-be-sprung compromise plan.