Group Tries To Rally Opposition To Medicaid Change

Jun 6, 2018
Originally published on June 6, 2018 4:30 pm

A health care advocacy group was urging Floridians to contact the Trump administration before the end of the day Tuesday to express opposition to a state proposal that would save $98 million by making changes to how people qualify for Medicaid. 

Gov. Rick Scott’s administration wants to eliminate a longstanding federal requirement that people have three months to apply for Medicaid and make them apply for the program the same month as they need care.

The group Florida Voices for Health sent an email to 2,000 people that included remarks from Claude Pepper Center Director Larry Polivka, who warned that “most Floridians do not know what this change means for aging parents.”

Social service advocates worry that the proposed change would hurt low-income seniors who might unexpectedly require nursing-home care and aren’t aware that Medicare won’t cover the costs. Medicare provides coverage for people ages 65 and older.

Its sister program, Medicaid, assists the poor, elderly and disabled and covers nursing-home costs.

Polivka is quoted in the announcement as saying going from a hospital to a nursing home can be “traumatic and frenetic,” which is why the federal government allotted the three-month window to apply for Medicaid.

Providers are paid for the health care they deliver during the 90-day window.

In the email, Polivka called the policy a “safeguard for individuals and caregivers faced with these difficult placement decisions.”

The email said opponents had until 11 p.m. Tuesday to submit comments to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Florida Voices for Health was founded in January 2017 and is funded in part by the Health Foundation of South Florida and the Allegany Franciscan Ministries and works with more than 50 organizations.

The Legislature this year agreed to a Scott administration suggestion to trim nearly $98 million in Medicaid spending. Legislators directed the state Agency for Health Care Administration to request an amendment to eliminate Medicaid retroactive eligibility for all patients except pregnant women and children.

AHCA estimates that about 39,000 Floridians could be impacted by the move, a number that hospital and nursing home lobbyists contend is low.

After holding public meetings and soliciting input, AHCA submitted the proposal to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Democrats in the Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation have called for rejection of the change.

AHCA spokeswoman Mallory McManus sent a statement to The New Service of Florida saying the move to eliminate the three-month retroactive eligibility is “about paperwork, not patient care.” She added: “By enrolling individuals quickly, you ensure better-coordinated fully integrated care, as well as access to preventative services.”