Senate approves Medicaid overhaul

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The Florida Senate easily approved a Medicaid overhaul Friday morning that calls for eventually requiring hundreds of thousands of poor and elderly beneficiaries to enroll in managed-care plans. Along almost straight party lines, the Republican-dominated Senate voted 28-11 and 26-12 to approve a two-bill Medicaid package. The House is expected to pass the bills later Friday, sending them to Gov. Rick Scott. If ultimately approved by the federal government, the proposal would require managed-care enrollment by October 2013 for seniors who need long-term care. The deadline would be October 2014 for a broader Medicaid population such as women and children. During a debate Friday, supporters said the proposal will improve care for Medicaid beneficiaries while helping control costs in the $20 billion program. Chief sponsor Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said it also will lead to treating Medicaid beneficiaries like people who get health insurance through their employers. ?e?e saying, we?e not going to treat you like you have an ??stamped on your head,? Negron said. But critics pointed to problems in a five-county Medicaid pilot program that started in 2006. Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, said it remains unclear whether that pilot saved money, and it also has been bedeviled by problems such as managed-care plans pulling out of counties. ?t this point, we have no definitive answer as to its success,? Rich said.

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.