'National model' for Medicaid privatization fails to collect benchmark data, provides dismal healthcare, reports say

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A Florida Medicaid privatization trial that is supposed to be a model for the rest of the nation is missing information on key results of the program, and it also provides sub-standard healthcare services, according to a recent report.  Medicaid is the No. 1 payer of U.S. nursing home care. (McKnight's, 1/21)

After three years of an experimental Medicaid privatization scheme in five major Florida counties, state officials recently announced they do not have any data on important program metrics, such as how many patients have been approved or denied for certain treatments and prescriptions, the Associated Press reported.

Additionally, Floridians enrolled in the program report terrible healthcare conditions, with many unable to see a doctor, let alone receive adequate treatments, the report said. According to the AP, 25% of doctors in two of the biggest counties involved in the program dropped out of the trial due to inordinate amounts of red tape.

Initiated by former Gov. Jeb Bush, the program uses state funds to pay private companies a set amount to provide healthcare services to certain individuals. The plan's detractors say it was a mistake to put companies-which could be bottom line-oriented--in charge of medical decisions. The largest company in the trial, WellCare, has admitted to overcharging both Florida and Illinois by more than $46 million for services rendered between 2004 and 2007, and stealing as much as $35 million from Florida under a different program, the AP reported.