Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to move Medicaid beneficiaries into private managed-care plans won approval from Florida's Legislature in a special session. The bill, which awaits Bush's signature, authorizes a one-year pilot program starting July 1 in Broward and Duval counties and subsequent analysis of the program. It calls for the program to be expanded statewide by 2011. The Bush administration failed in its effort to reduce the legislative approval that the expansion would require to committee level instead of the full Legislature. Federal officials also would have to clear future expansion. Under the program, most Medicaid enrollees would switch to managed-care plans or provider service networks or opt out and use Medicaid money to buy private insurance. The overhaul gives participating health plans broad control over the amount and type of care enrollees receive.
In a conference call, Alan Levine, secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, contended it was wrong to describe the initiative as privatization, saying the new program "was no more privatized than the system we have today." Levine said private hospitals and physicians already provide the care; the difference is now they will share more financial risk with the state. Privatization is broadly defined as a shift from governmental or public ownership or control to private industry.