Aug 6, 2010


The Florida Legislature is preparing now to introduce legislation in 2011 to move all Medicaid Patients into managed care as quickly as possible. Preliminary reports say that the new Speaker of the House, Rep. Dean Cannon of Winter Park, and the new Senate President, Sen. Mike Haridopolos of Brevard County, will introduce matching reform bills on the first day of the legislature in February of 2011. Both are working hard to justify their plans and secure votes now to change Medicaid patient care - forever.

Senator Haridopolos is actually on a Health Care Tour, this week, going to cities and health care institutions throughout the Sunshine State, to "listen" for ways to create "Patient Centered" health care reform.

We are curious how patient centered care can exist in conjunction with managed care. In managed care, the bottom-line is the center of concern, not the patients. Allowing only for-profit insurer to be in charge will be a disaster for patient care and jobs. More important for the HME industry - How can care be patient centered when patients lose choice of providers, choice of equipment and lose access to care?

For the HME industry, managed care is a death-nell. Already major insurers have consolidated their HME networks to one or a few providers state wide, leaving many hundreds of formerly participating small business out of luck, leaving patients without small niche providers who give them the specific product or service that assures them quality of life. Already patient are left without choice of equipment and without 24 hour 7 day a week service. If all Medicaid patients are moved to managed care, the vast majority of HME companies working with Medicaid patients will be out of business.

The saddest thing is Medicaid will not save money. On the contrary, lack of equipment and service in the home will force many sick and elderly to gain care from hospitals and nursing homes, The increased cost is geometrically more than the price of home based care, which will harm the taxpayer.

There are alternatives to consolidation and we are crafting documents to present them to the state, but right now we need to include ourselves in the conversation about the future of Medicaid.

Senator Haridopolos's Health Care Tour was one vehicle we hoped to use to make our points, but despite repeated requests by phone and email and fax, to attend any of the 8 meetings planned this week, we have been denied the right to be heard. "There is no room", we are told, at any facility for our state association that represents the interest of 1200 HME providers in the Florida and the million of patient who will be affected by their plans.

It seems that once again - just like last year - commenting on caring for the public- is invitation only. Last year after forwarding reams of information and speaking at State committee meetings against the Medicaid reform bill, it was announced on the House Floor that no one ever objected to the plan...- no one was allowed to know better or speak the truth. Such a thing cannot happen again.

We will attempt to attend some anyway, to give the other side of the story, but without being allowed to speak on the record, our chances are slim.

This is a clear indication that we need to be active with our elected state leaders to get to know them all, quickly, to raise issue regarding reimbursements rates, audits, overly aggressive anti fraud rules, how we have lost work due to consolidation; etc. The control the future State leaders are already imposing should be feared and countered.

We need to tell Haridoplous that Moving all patients into Managed care will;

Restrict choice and access to care..
Will close hundreds of small businesses.
Create massive unemployment of health care workers.
Will move patients our of home care into nursing homes and hospitals , costing more money.

From the Florida Alliance of Home Care Services