Friday, January 14, 2011

Committees begin discussion on Medicaid reform timelines

This week, legislators held a number of health care-related committee meetings, and FHCA staff and lobby team members were on hand to listen to presentations on the state budget, Medicaid, government operations, rule setting

Sen. Joe Negron (R-28), chairman of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations, kicked off his meeting on Wednesday telling audience members that there needs to be a transfer of priority in revenue from health and human services to education, criminal justice, transportation, economic development and other parts of the budget. The HHS Appropriations Committee is charged with developing a budget to help fund the state's $20.2 billion Medicaid program. The committee is also working on a Medicaid reform proposal, and Sen. Negron said he hopes to have a bill out in time for a February committee hearing.

Also during the meeting, the Florida Legislature's Office Of Program Policy Analysis And Government Accountability gave a report on nursing home residents and potential cost savings. The report found that a small percentage of people receiving nursing home services may have the potential to return to the community. OPPAGA's analysis of 53,026 people who received nursing home services in calendar year 2009 found that approximately 1.3 percent (or 713 people) had the potential to transition to community placements based on the MDS.

Sen. Negron noted that the report supports his position that nursing home residents cannot be safely moved to other settings. Sen. Don Gaetz (R-6) asked OPPAGA to restudy the Nursing Home Diversion program to determine if it is truly a substitute for nursing home care rather than just an added cost for the Medicaid program, since many people entering the Diversion program would not have actually gone into a nursing home.

Thursday, the House Health & Human Services Committee met, and Chairman Robert Schenk (R-44) said that his committee will use last year's House bill as a starting point for creating their Medicaid reform bill. Rep. Schenk stated that all Medicaid beneficiaries will be moved over to managed care, with long term care and developmental disabilities transitioned in over five years. Next week, the Committee will take public testimony, after which they will begin developing a committee bill. The subcommittees also plan to hold workshops on the bill.

With legislators beginning to lay out timelines for crafting their Medicaid reform proposals, now, more than ever, we need our members to register for FHCA's January 28th Legislative Meetings & Webcast, which will update you on the challenges facing long term care this session and help you learn how to effectively communicate our issues. The in-person portion of the event will include an opportunity to network with a local legislator and discuss effective grassroots advocacy with your long term care peers. Legislators confirmed to participate so far include Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami), Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Ft. Lauderdale), Rep. Jim Frishe (R-St. Petersburg), Rep. Elizabeth Porter (R-Gainesville) and Rep. Marti Coley (R-Panama City). Click here to register online.

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