Florida's Medicaid HMO program could lead to 'granny dumping'

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A lesser known provision of Florida's newly adopted Medicaid reform law includes an incentive for health plans that can reduce the number of seniors in nursing homes, according to Florida elder law attorney Ellen Morris.

This policy could result in a practice known as “granny dumping,” and force Florida seniors out of nursing homes, elder law advocates told members of the Agency for Health Care Administration at a hearing Tuesday night in West Palm Beach, FL, according to The Palm Beach Post. The law aims to move three million Medicaid recipients into a managed care program after July 1, 2012, and transition thousands of nursing home residents back into home or community settings. Individuals who are developmentally disabled, or those in the juvenile justice and mental health institutions are exempt from the privatization program, while nursing home residents are not.

Like many states, Florida has been struggling to keep up with rising Medicaid enrollment levels. Medicaid enrollment there has jumped 50% in four years.State lawmaker Rep. Joe Negron (R-Stuart), who helped develop the new law, said he would never deny skilled nursing care to seniors who need it, but that transitioning more people to home health would lower costs for taxpayers and give seniors more options for home- and community-based options.

But opponents claim managed care companies will receive bonuses for cutting nursing home residents.

"Given the imminent irreparable harm and the inadequate protection for Florida's elderly who need long-term care, they must be excluded from this experiment, and we will be fighting to make sure that CMS denies this request," said Morris in a Palm Beach Post report.