Florida received federal approval Wednesday to shift thousands of Medicaid patients into managed care, a groundbreaking pilot program that could be expanded to include millions of poor and elderly people whose healthcare is covered by the government. The plan still needs approval from the Florida Legislature, and Gov. Jeb Bush said he plans to call a special session in December to consider it.
Proponents say a managed system would control escalating costs while providing better care for low-income patients by focusing on prevention. The managed system would be implemented on July 1, 2006, in Broward and Duval counties for up to five years to see how well it works on a limited basis before getting final federal approval to go statewide.
AARP state director Bentley Lipscomb said in a statement that his group, which has more than 2.7 million members in Florida, was not opposed to managed care, but he questioned whether the state was capable of implementing such a large system. Lipscomb questioned what would happen when an HMO refuses to cover a patient's expenses, and he asked for proof that managed care would save money.