Friday, February 18, 2011

Medicaid reform should safeguard our seniors' quality nursing home care

Yesterday, Sen. Joe Negron, (R-28), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriation, released the Senate's Medicaid reform proposal (see pages 11-15 of the summary for the long term care provisions). The bill moves all Medicaid recipients into managed care, including long term care, with the exception of the developmentally disabled. Full implementation is expected to be completed by March 2013, with the long term care Medicaid population as the last segment brought under managed care.

Florida Health Care Association is concerned that the bill mandates a guaranteed 7% savings for all managed care entities contracting with the State. Given that residents in nursing homes require 24-hour skilled care based on their medical needs, and are appropriately placed, we can conclude that the only way to achieve those savings would be to reduce provider payment levels. In addition to the guaranteed 7% savings, managed care companies would also have to save enough to cover their administrative costs and profit. We oppose a managed care program that ultimately would result in the inability to provide safe and efficient quality care to the residents we serve.

The Senate bill also calls for Florida to begin running the Medicaid program itself by the end of the year (Dec. 31st) if Washington doesn't allow the state more flexibility. This could put billions of dollars in federal funding, for the state's Medicaid program, including that for quality nursing home care, at risk.

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