House Dems ask feds to deny Medicaid expansionby John Kennedy | July 15th, 2011
Two Palm Beach County House Democrats are among those urging the Obama administration to deny the Republican-led Legislature’s bid to revamp Medicaid by steering 3 million low-income and elderly Floridians into managed care by 2013.
Among the reasons cited by the lawmakers in calling for federal rejection of the plan are the state’s experience across five counties, including Broward, where Medicaid patients have been placed into HMOs since 2006.
“The new legislation builds on a failed managed care platform, expands its scope introduces additional experimental elements and dramatically accelerates its implementation but without resolving the outstanding problems and concerns of the current pilot,” the lawmakers wrote the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The letter was signed by Reps. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton, Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, and Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville. The lawmakers serve as ranking Democrats on various health and human services committees.
The Florida legislation (CS/HB 7107, 7109) was signed into law last month by Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who earned millions of dollars as a health care executive before his election.
The new standard builds on the HMO-styled plans introduced for Medicaid patients in Broward, Baker, Clay, Nassau and Duval counties, beginning in 2006, but which have drawn poor to mixed reviews from policy analysts.
The proposed expansion, which needs federal approval, also has drawn heat in public hearings around the state.
The letter drew a quick rebuke from House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, who called the Democratic authors “reckless and irresponsible.”
“The Florida Legislature just faced one of the toughest financial legislative sessions over the past decade. That these leaders would recommend to the federal government that Florida should continue with an outrageously expensive, fraud-laden Medicaid system, almost certain to throw our state into a financial abyss, is indefensible and a political tactic that will only jeopardize Florida’s financial stability and future,” Lopez-Cantera said.