Florida’s statewide privatization of Medicaid has barely reached its first anniversary and already the rate-setting bait and switch has shifted into high gear. Private managed care companies that now control health care for 3.5 million Floridians have asked for a 12 percent payment increase for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which would more than wipe out savings that insurance companies promised when they lobbied to take over Medicaid. With Florida health officials wisely resisting the increase so far, taxpayers can only hope that Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers will remain firm when the Legislature meets in regular session in January and the lobbying pressure for higher rates intensifies.
The theory behind privately run Medicaid sounds plausible and plays well to conservatives who believe the private sector always can be more efficient than government. And, in fact, the state’s previous fee-for-service Medicaid approach did create some waste when poor people used emergency rooms to treat minor ailments or otherwise over-used services. Insurance companies argued that they could save the state money and still make a profit by managing client care for a flat monthly stipend. In reality, Medicaid managed care in Florida has largely left a trail of empty promises propped up by naked political muscle.
– Tampa Bay Times