Kaiser Highlights Recent Medicaid News In Six States

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Summaries of recent news about Medicaid programs in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, South Carolina and West Virginia appear below.

Florida
Three insurance companies that cover 60% of people enrolled in Florida "Medicaid Reform" plans have said they will leave the project and have asked to be assigned no new members, a move suspected to be a result of reductions in Medicaid payments to the plans, Florida Health News reports. The reform plan, which began in 2006 and operates in five counties, requires that most non-institutionalized Medicaid beneficiaries be enrolled in private plans carrying the risk of providing their care.

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Letters from Amerigroup Florida, UnitedHealthcare of Florida and WellCare Health Plans' HealthEase of Florida and WellCare of Florida did not indicate why they chose to leave the program, but Amerigroup spokesperson Kate Jenkins cited the 5% reduction in Medicaid payments scheduled for Sept. 1 as the reason. She said, "We understand Florida has budget issues," adding, "We want to work with them. But the hard fact is, it will lower our revenues at a time when health care costs are going up across the board" (Gentry/Jordan Sexton, Florida Health News, 8/27).

UnitedHealthcare spokesperson Steve Matthews said, "What it comes down to is a question of revenue and expenses" (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/28). Florida Community Health Action Information Network Executive Director Laura Goodhue said, "Medicaid consumers, evaluators and advocates have been saying all along that the program isn't living up to its promise, and now it appears that the private market is agreeing" (Florida Health News, 8/27).

State officials did not indicate how beneficiaries enrolled in these plans will be covered after the plans stop participating in the program on Dec. 1. Medicaid officials with the Florida Agency on Health Care Administration will meet on Thursday to discuss options, according to spokesperson Fernando Serna (Galnor, Florida Times-Union, 8/28). Agency spokesperson Doc Kokol said Medicaid officials are "confident" that they will be able to continue coverage for the more than 100,000 beneficiaries affected by the pending withdrawal of the three companies from the program (Gentry/Jordan Sexton, Florida Health News, 8/28).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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