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Medicaid Privatization Begins With 9,000 Central Florida Long-Term-Care Patients

A map representing the 13 regions for Medicaid Managed Care
Agency For Healthcare Administration

Florida health officials kicked off the state’s transition to a Medicaid managed care system Thursday.  Seniors in nursing homes are the first to enter the newly privatized system.

More than 9,000 Central Florida long-term care patients have signed up for insurance plans to cover the cost of their care. The move comes two years after state lawmakers approved the privatization of Medicaid for low-income Floridians.

Under the managed care system, the state will send Medicaid dollars to the insurance companies.  Insurers, in turn, will pay providers, including nursing homes. Agency for Healthcare Administration Liz Dudek says the process will take time.

“Today’s the day we begin rolling out the long-term care in Florida. We’re doing so here, Brevard, Osceola,  Orange and Seminole county. We’re going to go through the rest of the state, culminating in March 2014.”  

The state got federal approval for the managed care transition earlier in the year. Florida currently spends about $22 billion a year on Medicaid, with costs rising annually.  Supporters say the managed care program will help stem those cost increases, but detractors say the savings will come at the expense of people who need care.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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