Update: Feds approve extension in Medicaid talks

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Federal health officials Friday approved Florida’s request for another temporary extension of a controversial Medicaid pilot program, amid negotiations about continuing the program for three more years, reports the News Service of Florida. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration asked earlier Friday for a temporary extension through the end of August. The pilot was scheduled to end June 30, but AHCA has received two other temporary extensions this summer, including one that was set to expire Sunday. The pilot, which started in 2006, is controversial because it requires most Medicaid beneficiaries in five counties to enroll in managed-care plans. Florida is seeking to continue running the pilot through mid-2014, while it moves forward with a broader statewide managed-care Medicaid system. Roberta Bradford, AHCA’s deputy secretary for Medicaid, indicated in a letter to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the negotiations center on the future of what is known as the “Low Income Pool” program. That $1-billion-year program was created as part of the pilot and funnels extra money to hospitals and other providers that serve low-income and uninsured patients. AHCA has learned during negotiations that the federal government is looking at ending funding for such programs in December 2013. That has hung up the negotiations on the state receiving a federal “waiver” to continue the pilot. “Due to the critical nature of the funding, the state is requesting the extension of the current waiver and awaits a final determination by CMS,” Bradford said in the letter.

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.