State Politics

Florida Medicaid overhaul heads to the House floor

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House set the stage Thursday for a vote next week on a massive overhaul of Florida’s Medicaid system, adopting a series of amendments with relatively little disagreement or partisan wrangling.

The House began floor action on a pair of bills (HB 7223, HB 7225) that would put most Medicaid recipients in all 67 counties into privately operated managed care plans over the next five years, a move aimed at cutting rapidly rising costs and curtailing fraud.

The most contentious issue was a failed effort by minority Democrats to send the bills back to committee in the Republican-controlled chamber. Democrats complained they had been rushed to the floor without sufficient consideration.

The bills weren’t reduced to writing until last week and heard by only one committee before being formally introduced Monday.

The Senate already has passed legislation that would extend an existing five-county experiment in managed care to 19 more counties instead of taking it statewide as in the House plan.

House votes are expected Monday. The issue then may go to a joint conference committee to resolve differences between the chambers.

The House accepted several Democratic amendments. They included a provision that would allow Medicaid recipients to receive counseling on choosing a managed care plan in the language of their choice.

Another would increase a requirement for pregnancy and infant care plans to screen at least 80 percent of participants annually instead of just 60 percent.

The House, though, rejected amendments that would have exempted nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from the managed care requirement or delayed its implementation for those entities.