Florida lawmakers pass Medicaid plan

Published: March 13, 2022 3:20 PM EDT
Florida State Representatives participate in a special legislative session considering bills targeting COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida lawmakers on Monday began debating a package of bills to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates, continuing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' fight against virus rules. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Florida lawmakers passed a plan Friday that will help set the stage for the Agency for Health Care Administration to award billions of dollars in Medicaid managed-care contracts.

The bill (SB 1950) passed after the House agreed to drop a controversial proposal that dealt with disputes between managed-care plans and “essential” providers, such as children’s hospitals and teaching hospitals.

The House proposal could have led to withholding what are known as Medicaid “supplemental” payments from essential providers that do not reach agreements to be part of managed-care networks.

The House proposal included a mediation process designed to try to help spur essential providers and managed-care plans to reach agreements.

House sponsor Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, said this week the proposal’s goal was to ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries will be able to receive specialized care from the essential providers.

But hospitals objected, saying it would give an unfair advantage to managed-care plans in negotiations.

They were backed by the Senate, which declined to go along with the House proposal.

Garrison acknowledged disappointment Friday in changes to the final version of the bill.

“It’s a bicameral legislature,” he said. “We have to work through these sorts of things.”

Lawmakers in 2011 created a system in which most Medicaid beneficiaries are required to enroll in managed-care plans.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has gone through lengthy processes twice to award contracts to managed-care plans and is expected to begin a third round this year.