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Senate Weighs Medicaid Retroactivity Issue

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A Senate panel has twice delayed considering legislation that would make permanent a move to eliminate a 90-day period in which people could retroactively apply for Medicaid coverage. 

Federal law directs state Medicaid programs to provide 90 days of retroactive coverage to give people time to apply for Medicaid following traumatic incidents or diagnosis of illnesses. That way, people can gather needed information, such as proof of age, citizenship, sources of income and assets.

At the urging of former Gov. Rick Scott, state lawmakers in 2018 agreed to change Florida’s policy. Instead of the three-month time span, the new policy requires people to apply for the Medicaid program in the same month they seek health care.

Lawmakers excluded pregnant women and people under age 21, which means the policy change impacts elderly and disabled Medicaid beneficiaries.

Lawmakers in 2019 extended the policy through July 1, 2020 and directed the state Agency for Health Care Administration to analyze the policy change and submit a report on the total number of non-pregnant adults who applied for Medicaid while in hospitals or nursing homes between Feb. 1, 2019 and Dec. 6, 2019, and the number of applications that were approved and denied. But AHCA couldn’t collect the information the Legislature requested.

The analysis will be conducted by the University of Florida as part of an overall review of Florida’s statewide Medicaid managed-care program and will be available by fall, according to state Medicaid officials.

Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, filed a bill (SB 52) that would eliminate the July 1, 2020 expiration date for the policy, making the change permanent. But Bean did not take up the issue twice in his subcommittee this week.

He told The News Service of Florida that “without having the full information of the report by the Agency for Health Care Administration, it’s a harder sell.” But Bean stressed that the move to eliminate retroactive eligibility has generated $104 million in savings, and the expectation is that a one-year extension of the policy will be included in a Senate budget bill that should be released Thursday or Friday.

The House has already included such a one-year extension in a budget bill that was released this week.

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News Service of Florida