Citing budgetary constraints, Florida’s Republican-led Legislature is prepared to push the state’s Medicaid payment system off the public dole and into private pockets. –ARK

The New York Times:

Florida lawmakers are poised to scrap the traditional model in which the state pays doctors for each service they perform. Instead, almost all of Florida’s Medicaid recipients would be funneled into state-authorized, for-profit H.M.O.’s or networks run by hospitals or doctors. H.M.O.’s or networks would also manage the long-term care of the elderly, shifting them away from nursing homes and leading to an expansion of in-home care. Lawmakers who support the bill say the state needs this flexibility in curtailing the exploding cost of Medicaid.

The Florida legislation is being closely watched by other states as they tackle the rapid growth of enrollment and the cost of care. Because Florida has three million Medicaid patients and a high number of uninsured people, a swift jump into managed care would be significant. And while many states use managed care for Medicaid users in one form or other, the Florida proposals stand out because they would set possible limits on services, giving the state and H.M.O.’s the right to deny some benefits that are now offered to patients. This would require federal permission.

“If Florida adopts this method of looking at managed care, other states will definitely look at that, and this is a tool we can use,” said Michael W. Garner, the president of the Florida Association of Health Plans, which lobbies for H.M.O.’s. “The toolbox is pretty empty right now.”

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