Feds extend Medicaid talks to Sept. 15

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Federal health officials Wednesday approved another two-week extension in negotiations with the state Agency for Health Care Administration about continuing Florida’s Medicaid managed-care pilot program, reports the News Service of Florida. The two sides are partly discussing the future of the state’s Low Income Pool (LIP), which funnels about $1 billion a year to hospitals and other providers that care for large numbers of low-income and uninsured patients. The federal government has indicated it might scuttle LIP, which is part of the pilot, in December 2013. Also, Justin Senior, who will become the state’s acting Medicaid director Sept. 10, said last week that another issue is the federal government’s desire for a “medical loss ratio.” Such a ratio, which has not been part of the pilot, would require managed-care plans to spend a certain percentage of the money they receive on patient care. The controversial pilot started in 2006 and requires most Medicaid beneficiaries in Broward, Duval, Baker, Clay and Nassau counties to enroll in HMOs or other types of plans known as provider service networks. The pilot was scheduled to expire June 30, but the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has granted a series of temporary extensions to try to reach agreement on continuing the program through June 2014. The newest temporary extension will last through Sept. 15. In a letter granting the temporary extension, CMS official Victoria Wachino said the federal government looks forward to working with the state to “finalize” the continuation of the pilot.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.