The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has granted Florida permission to transfer management of a part of its Medicaid program to private companies. Seniors who utilize Medicaid for their long-term care coverage, mainly nursing home stays, will begin working with managed care companies.
The state first asked HHS to grant the waiver needed to privatize Medicaid back in 2011. The federal government had until the end of the week to say what it was going to do about this long-term care request. The bigger goal of privatizing the general Medicaid population requires a different waiver, which is still pending.
“I am appreciative that HHS approved one of our two important Medicaid waivers, and that they have done so before the February 7th deadline," Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release. "The additional flexibility provided through this waiver helps improve our current system, and HHS approval allows us to begin implementing changes to our current Medicaid program."
Recently, Scott has attempted to fuse these managed care waiver requests with the debate on whether Florida will opt to expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He said the privitization plan will help reduce program costs, which could make it more feasible for Florida to agree to allow more uninsured residents to join Medicaid.
“The second pending waiver does not have a deadline for HHS to respond to the state’s request for approval," Scott said. "Given the major decisions facing the future of our Medicaid program under the president’s healthcare law, I am asking HHS to take immediate action on our second waiver request related to the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program.
“We need HHS’s immediate action to determine what flexibility we will have within our current Medicaid program and its impacts on the cost, quality and access to healthcare. Our state is facing unprecedented decisions that demand unprecedented attention from federal health officials.”
Today, Scott sent HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter asking her to approve the second waiver request quickly.