House, Senate still working on Medicaid agreement

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With the Senate scheduled Monday to consider a Medicaid-overhaul bill, top senators said Saturday they are still trying to work out a deal with the House. ?e?e working around the clock,? said Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart. House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said late Friday that Negron and House Health & Human Services Chairman Rob Schenck had ?ssentially reached accord on the big picture.?But Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, said Saturday she was unaware of any deal. Republican leaders want to move almost all Medicaid beneficiaries into managed-care plans. ?f there is one, I haven? heard about it yet,?Rich said. The House has already approved a plan to overhaul the $20 billion health-care system, but the Senate has proposed a vastly different bill. The full Senate is scheduled to take up the issue Monday, as lawmakers race to end the annual legislative session at the end of the week. Among the differences: The House wants to divide the state into eight regions in which managed-care plans would compete, while the Senate has proposed 19 regions. Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who has been heavily involved in the Medicaid issue, said the number of regions is important because lawmakers want ?rovider-service networks?— local networks of hospitals and other types of providers — to be able to compete with HMOs in the managed-care system. Gaetz said provider-service networks will have difficulties operating if the regions are too large. For example, he said a Pensacola-based network would have a hard time serving the entire Panhandle. ?he number of regions is important in establishing an opportunity to (be) a player in the market,? Gaetz said.

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