Education Concerns Push Back Florida’s Medicaid Experiment

The greatly anticipated meeting between Medicaid and managed care that’s expected to take place in Florida has been delayed. The program, expected to shift 210,000 Medicaid recipients in Broward and Duval counties into health plans, was to have been launched on July 1. That date has been pushed back to Sept. 1 to give enrollees a chance to attend one of 32 educational sessions in Fort Lauderdale from June 23 to July21.

The program is part of Gov. Jeb Bush’s effort to get a handle on Medicaid costs, an imperative for most state governments these days. Bush hopes to cap spending growth for the program at 8 percent a year for the next five years. Some worry that the low-income recipients may not be up to the task of choosing the right health insurer. They will choose from about 10 health plans.

“I’m very nervous about the whole situation,” David Shear tells the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Shear’s son is a Medicaid recipient with bipolar disorder. “An HMO won’t give [him] what Medicaid has been giving him.”

Not to worry, Alan Levine, secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration, which runs Medicaid, tells the newspaper. “All current services in Medicaid now must still be offered. We won’t approve a plan if it doesn’t.”

The educational sessions are being run by a company called ACS State Healthcare. It is also providing 43 phone operators and 10 advisers to counsel beneficiaries in Broward County.

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