Florida House approves Medicaid managed care program expansion

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The Florida House of Representatives this week approved two bills that would gradually shift most of the state's Medicaid recipients to managed care plans, according to local reports.

Currently, the state is experimenting with Medicaid managed care pilot programs in five counties. The House legislation would, over the next five years, divide the state into six regions and require managed care for Medicaid recipients, including seniors requiring long-term care, according to Health News Florida. A Florida Senate plan would expand the pilot program to 19 counties. The Medicaid program in Florida is expected to cost $19 billion over the coming fiscal year. The managed care proposal is an attempt to reign in those costs, according to Health News Florida.

Critics of the plan argue that managed care plans would be disruptive to frail and elderly Medicaid recipients. They also argue that the savings realized by managed care pilot programs are found primarily among younger patients, and that moving the elderly from nursing homes to managed care works differently, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Currently, some not-for-profit companies provide similar care as the new managed care plan at a lower cost to Medicaid, the Times reported.