A historic bill that would make sweeping changes to Florida's Medicaid program won Senate approval today, setting the stage for the care of nearly 3 million beneficiaries to be placed in the hands of private companies and hospital networks.
Fla. Senate passes historic Medicaid overhaul
The bill goes back to the House for a vote. Lawmakers on both sides have worked long hours in closed-door meetings to reach a last-minute deal the House will likely pass. Proponents say the bill will mitigate rising Medicaid costs that now top more than $20 billion a year.
Democrats complained that the bill was negotiated in secret by a handful of people.
"I believe we should have had a conference committee. Something that has this much impact, for three or four people to sit down and come up with whatever is in this legislation is not the right process," said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston.
The last-minute consensus gives the House little time to review the revisions in the 200-plus page bill before today's vote.
The Senate bill loosely expands on a controversial five-county pilot program that has prompted widespread criticism. The plan's detractors say for-profit providers are making money scrimping on patient care. Patients have complained they couldn't get appointments with specialists. Several providers pulled out of the program, causing lapses in care as patients were bounced among plans.
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