State Approved for Privatized Medicaid - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

State Approved for Privatized Medicaid

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A major step forward today in the state's fight for Privatized Medicaid.

Wednesday, the federal centers for Medicare & Medicaid services indicated they will approve the state's request, known as a Medicaid Waver, to move almost all Medicaid patients into private managed care plans.

If approved, it would start with long-term care seniors, and then move to a broader Medicaid patient bases.

Ultimately the state would like to see 3 million Medicaid patients in managed care plans that would facilitate preventative care and keep state costs lower.

"The Goal of most managed care plans is to keep people out of the ER and out of the hospital unless they need to be there," said PanCare of Florida's Northwest Executive Director, mike hill. "If you manage the care, you'll reduce the cost because the people will not be as sick when they present."

It's the argument that Governor Rick Scott has championed since 2011, when several bills were passed to improve Medicaid services and save the state money on the 21 billion dollar program.

Wednesday, they took one step closer to Medicaid privatization.

In a letter, the Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services indicated they would approve the state's request, if the state promises to be transparent

Governor Scott was undeniably pleased saying:

"Improving the coordination of care in Medicaid means we will be able to better manage chronic conditions and give more preventative treatments to help keep Florida families healthy…"

But the challenge, according to hill, is to get HMO's into the panhandle to provide these services.

"There are not many Managed Care Programs in the Panhandle because they've never been able to have a sufficient provider network in place to sustain it," said Hill.

He said it's also necessary to have far reaching resources; something that could pose a challenge to rural areas where resources are scarce.

But if it works, he said the results could put money back into the pockets of taxpayers.

"If HMO's and Managed Care will do that, then everyone should be for it," said Hill

In a press conference in Tallahassee on Wednesday afternoon, Scott made what some consider a surprising announcement. He will expand the state's Medicaid insurance program under the Affordable Care Act. This is an about-face to his previous view point.