Private care not answer for Medicaid

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Emergency room doctor (and former City Council candidate) Jason Wilson has an op-ed in today’s Tampa Tribune about how, as the $3.8 billion budget deficit looms over the 2011 Florida Legislative session, large medical-related expenditures have become prime targets for spending cuts.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Senate appear determined to move the bulk of Medicaid recipients into privately managed care organizations, even though they have not been granted a federal waiver for this reorganization and will risk the loss of federal matching dollars.

In addition, the Medicaid reform proposal offers no clear plan to ensure patient access to timely, quality and affordable health care and may constitute an ethics violation as the governor’s own private company (Solantic) would likely benefit from the proposed changes by gaining more paying customers.

Clearly, a poor understanding of community health-care networks, as well as an unrealistic perspective of a patient’s ability to access medical care, belies most of the proposals circulating in Tallahassee.

I ask that you pay special attention to Dr. Wilson’s thoughts about the importance of the Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC) network:

The Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is experienced in operating prevention, education and clinical programs that keep Medicaid recipients out of the hospital.

The center does this by providing education and direct patient care through medical training programs in rural and underserved areas. The center’s state dollars are partially matched by federal funds, but the organization has undergone an appropriations decrease of 60 percent over the past four years, from almost $11 million to $4.8 million in FY2009-2010.

At this time, the Florida Senate has recommended total elimination of state funds for AHEC, making the organization ineligible for federal matching dollars and ending all direct patient services.

If you agree with Dr. Wilson and myself that the Florida Legislature needs to keep AHEC’s funding at least at its current level, please visit this Facebook page.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.