Feds Approve Florida’s Medicaid Reform Plan, but Recipients, Lawmakers Have Concerns

The feds are giving Florida the go-ahead to save millions of tax dollars by reworking its Medicaid program. Jeb Bush finally received the federal waiver required for his reform plan, and the legislature is expected to convene a special session to approve it.

But the jury’s still out on whether people will actually receive better healthcare under the new system.

The Medicaid system millions of low-income, elderly and disabled residents depend on for health care would function more like an HMO under Jeb Bush’s reform plan.

Case Manager Janice Phillips works with families on Medicaid, and she says many are nervous about the changes.

“I think the biggest thing that people are concerned about is whether or not they’re going to get the same services that they’re currently getting.”

Phillips says Medicaid recipients worry they’re being squeezed to save cash, forced to change doctors or travel farther for care.

Jeb Bush freely admits it’s all about money, but he says he hopes his Medicaid reform proposal will also encourage recipients to live healthier lives.

Bush says Florida’s federal waiver will let Medicaid money to go toward things like over-the-counter meds, and programs to help you quit smoking.

“We have a proposal that when we implement, is going to be great, which is, if you make right decisions for yourself and your family, you’re rewarded with additional benefits that focus on prevention.”

Still, lawmakers are leery. State Sen. Mandy Dawson doesn’t want Medicaid reform to become the next hurricane Katrina.

“We just want to make sure that we don’t have, end up in Florida with the same kind of devastation and the same kind of outcomes with a lot of poor people being treated like second class citizens.”

Florida lawmakers will likely take up the reform plan in a December special session.

If approved by lawmakers, the Medicaid reform plan will begin as a pilot program in Broward and Duval Counties next summer. The feds would have to sign off before the changes could be expanded statewide.


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