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Diagnosis For 3.21.22: Checking The Pulse Of Florida Health Care News And Policy

Welcome back to Diagnosis, a vertical that focuses on the crossroads of health care policy and politics.

Florida’s Medicaid program — which is funded through a combination of state and federal money — is the primary safety net program for supplying health care to more than 5 million Floridians. The number of residents relying on Medicaid has swelled in the last two years because of the pandemic and the economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any major changes — or a lack of significant changes (such as rejection of Medicaid expansion) — can affect communities across the state. And major changes are in the works, especially if the Joe Biden administration ends the declared public health emergency and states assume more control over their Medicaid rolls.

Those expected enrollment revisions — coupled with plans to overhaul how the state contracts with the managed care plans that run Medicaid — will likely keep the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and state regulators busy in the weeks and months ahead.

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— Details emerge —

The Ron DeSantis administration isn’t talking openly about how it will begin disenrolling people from Medicaid once the public health emergency expires, but a recent survey of 50 state Medicaid programs and Washington, D.C., provides some insights.

When Florida Medicaid officials begin the mammoth task of redetermining eligibility for 5 million Medicaid beneficiaries later this year, they will probably let the calendar serve as its guide. That’s what’s suggested in the results of the 50-state survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Time for reevaluation?

According to federal guidance, states can redetermine eligibility based on population or timeliness. With the former, the state would prioritize redetermination, starting with the people least likely to continue to qualify. With the latter, redeterminations are based on the beneficiary’s renewal month or some other pending action.

As of Feb. 28, 5,144,598 people were enrolled in the Florida Medicaid program, most enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans as part of the state’s mandatory Medicaid managed care program.

Immediately following the public health emergency, there was a precipitous increase in enrollment. Enrollment in Florida’s Medicaid program in April 2020 was more than 4.1% higher than in March 2020. And enrollment in May 2020 was 3.66% higher than April enrollment. There has not been more than a 1% increase in Medicaid enrollment since June 2021.


— Not so smart? —

The findings from the 50-state survey also show that Florida is not as smart as it could be when it comes to Medicaid applications.

Florida is one of 48 states to make sure the application is available online. But the state only allows access by a laptop or desktop computer. Florida is one of 15 states that haven’t taken steps to ensure that Medicaid applications are accessible through different devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Could Florida do Medicaid enrollment any better?

According to the 50-state survey of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment policies, 70% of the states have made applications available via smartphones and tablets.

The 2022 survey reflects states’ policies for Medicaid, the safety net program jointly funded by the state and federal government, and CHIP, an expansion program to cover children who live in families that earn too much to qualify for the traditional Medicaid program.

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comMar 21, 2022

Republished with permission