To the Editor:
The Agency for Healthcare Administration, a state agency, gave a presentation to open this hearing. It was very complete in putting forth a picture of the proposed Medicaid reform, cutting $1 billion from the program. This should be referred to as Gov. Rick Scott’s vision of Medicaid. Scott’s plan was tested in both Broward and Duval counties with less than a 50 percent success rate, - hardly a ringing endorsement for change. An independent study by Georgetown also gave a disapproval of this plan.
I attended this meeting to listen to those professionals, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and lawyers describing the impact on the poor and infirm. Ninety percent spoke against this plan for many reasons. In these professionals’ views, the only winners were not patients but the Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and the State of Florida.
The losers could be patients in nursing homes. They could be at risk, if an HMO recommended home care. Full-time care at home, while desirable, is not feasible because the wait list for these services is backlogged for a year and is NOT accepting any new patients.
Patients will be assigned a gate keeper. Who will make the decisions? A doctor or some clerk in the HMO? HMOs will be given bonuses for not recommending procedures or care. Their profitability will be shared with the State of Florida. This in itself sounds like, looks like and smells like a “kickback.”
Hospitals, doctors and nurses will have treatments held up (even if needed) while seeking HMO approvals. Approvals could even slow emergency treatment. They will also have to add clerical staff to cope with the HMO process.
Lawyers responsible for overseeing care of the elderly fear the proposed decision making by HMOs.
Infirm elderly and mentally infirm and poor patients will go through a process that is complex in itself. They first will deal with some HMO’s gate keeper, then a voucher system and finally shopping and pre-determining the parameters of their own care. This population needs everything as simple as possible and as flexible as possible to attend to their specific needs.
I would agree that present plan needs some improvement, but the old plan sounds better than this alternative. We can stop this from being implemented by contacting: Deputy of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Ave., Washington, D.C. 20201.
Ask this agency not to grant Gov. Riocl Scott’s request for a federal waiver. The federal government contributes 50 percent of the money to fund a state’s Medicaid program.