JACKSONVILLE, Florida (December 7, 2011) — As Floridians look ahead to 2012, they face the potential of significant changes to the state’s Medicaid program — changes that will impact low-income children, individuals receiving long-term care and other groups of people not currently participating in Medicaid managed care.
One change, research shows, could result in 800,000 children and parents disenrolling from Florida Medicaid because of newly imposed monthly premiums.
The complexity of these changes, and the fact that many must be negotiated with the federal government, creates uncertainty about what future benefits may be and what costs may be associated with them.
To provide some clarity — for the public and for policymakers — the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, in partnership with the Winter Park Health Foundation, commissioned researchers at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute to analyze the various proposals for change, the approvals needed and the potential impact on beneficiaries.
Their findings are outlined in a pair of briefing papers being released today.
“Looking Ahead to 2012, What Changes Are in Store for Florida’s Medicaid Program?” details the multiple proposals for change and the complex paths that these proposals must follow to receive the necessary approval prior to implementation.
“Proposed Medicaid Premiums Challenge Coverage for Florida’s Children and Parents” analyzes the potential impact of the state’s plan to impose a $10 monthly premium all Medicaid beneficiaries, including children. This premium, researchers project, could force more than 800,000 beneficiaries — the majority of them children –to leave Medicaid, potentially relying on emergency rooms and other high-cost resources for health care.
“Last week Georgetown released a report showing that Florida has made great strides over the past few years in reducing the number of children without health insurance,” said Joan Alker, one of the authors of the reports. “This proposal would turn back the clock on all that progress and would have a devastating impact on the growing number of Florida children living in poverty.”
These educational briefs are the latest chapter in a large body of research into Florida Medicaid by the team at Georgetown. In 2004-2005, Georgetown research Joan Alker worked with the Winter Park Health Foundation to outline the potential impact of early changes to the Medicaid program. In 2006-2008, the researchers worked with the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to explore the impact of the state’s five-county Medicaid pilot program. Earlier this year, the researchers updated that research as the Florida Legislature considered expanding the pilot to all of Florida’s 67 counties.
“We continue to be concerned about the availability of quality health care for all of Florida’s residents, particularly the most vulnerable, ” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “We think it is important to provide the public and policymakers with independent research and information to help inform their discretion.”
Lead researchers on the project are Alker, co-executive director of the Georgetown Health Policy Institute, and Jack Hoadley, research professor at the Health Policy Institute.
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund makes grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by Mrs. duPont in her will. The Fund has assets of more than $281 million and has awarded $303 million in grants since 1977.
Sherry Magill, president
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