Florida signs Medicaid reform bill into law

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Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has signed into law a bill that allows the state to begin phasing in his ambitious Medicaid reform plan.

The plan offers Medicaid recipients choices in their own healthcare services while encouraging providers to offer a range of benefit plans. The state's lawmakers had overwhelmingly approved the bill before passing it off to the Bush for his signature. Democratic lawmakers in the state, however, have criticized the plan saying it is the first step toward privatizing Medicaid coverage.

The new law is set to take effect July 1 and authorizes the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to develop a federal waiver to phase in the reforms, beginning with two counties in South Florida. The state's $14 billion Medicaid program currently offers coverage to nearly 2.1 million of the state's residents.

More information on the bill (S.B. 838) is available at "http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Welcome/index.cfm" and at "http://www.empoweredcare.com."