Breaking: Gov. Rick Scott to endorse Medicaid expansion this evening. Related: Scott has already ruined Florida

Today's been a big fat wad of Florida depression, which you probably already know. You're probably also aware that today whiny gubernatorial gumball Rick Scott got his way on the second of his Medicaid waiver requests from the feds, prompting him to release the following blast of ridiculously wronged optimism in the face of a new, privatized managed-care system for Florida's poor.

Governor Scott: Florida Wins 2nd Medicaid Waiver Granting Flexibilities

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Rick Scott today announced that after months of negotiations with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Florida has won its request for a waiver granting additional flexibilities in Medicaid to better coordinate care and help prevent hospital visits. HHS’s agreement to give Florida a medical assistance waiver in the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program comes just weeks after HHS granted the Governor’s first waiver request in the state’s long-term care program. Gov. Rick Scott said, “This is a great win for Florida, and it would not have been possible without the support of legislators who began the fight for this Medicaid flexibility many months ago.  Improving the coordination of care in Medicaid means we will be able to better-manage chronic conditions and give more preventative treatments to help keep Florida families healthy. When I met with Sec. Sebelius in Washington, D.C. in January, I stressed the importance of the state receiving flexibilities in our current Medicaid program through the long-term care waiver and this medical assistance waiver for the implementation of the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program. Getting this waiver approved by HHS, just after our long-term care waiver, makes us two-for-two in our request for Medicaid flexibilities. This helps Florida taxpayers by lowering costs and Florida families by improving healthcare services.” HHS communicated the state’s Medicaid Managed Care medical assistance waiver approval in a letter expressing the department’s “agreement in principle” to the Agency for Health Care Administration earlier today. The Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program was designed to:
  • Emphasize patient-centered care, personal responsibility and active patient participation;
  • Provide for fully integrated care through alternative delivery models with access to providers and services through a uniform statewide program; and
  • Implement innovations in reimbursement methodologies, plan quality and plan accountability.
Yeah, whatever with the "patient-centered" crap, because privately managed care always works out well.   To be fair, some healthcare advocates are praising the waiver approval, mostly because it includes regulations that should allow for some fairness, allegedly. Here's what Florida CHAIN said today in a statement:
Today, conditional approval was given to the state of Florida to move almost all Medicaid recipients into managed care. CMS and Florida appear to be moving in the right direction, but we will reserve judgment until we see the final document, should the waiver ultimately be approved. This has been a long, long process and this is a much different waiver than the one Governor Bush approved in 2005. The waiver that we have now significantly limits the ability of managed care plans to vary benefits, evade accountability, and implement other dangerous elements of the experiment. Consumer health advocates have fought hard to ensure that access to care and consumer protections remain a top priority. We are encouraged by the inclusion of those protections and the movement toward a more transparent, inclusive process and more robust independent monitoring. We are hopeful that the final language and implementation will reflect what is most important – full access to quality health care for Medicaid beneficiaries with proper oversight.
Now comes the news that Gov. Scott is finally prepared to endorse Medicaid expansion for the state, thus putting it in line with the Affordable Care Act, and putting Scott at either a disadvantage with his Tea Party brethren or in to some bizzaro campaigning blender of feigned compassion. Gah, it'll be everywhere in ten minutes when Scott holds his press conference. So just wait for that. Instead, take that ten minutes to read this scathing indictment of Scott's Tea Party in Florida via Mother Jones. IT LITERALLY RUINED OUR DAY. Here's one of like 50 reasons why:
In 2011, Florida declined about $2 million for a Medicaid pilot project to give hospice care to very sick kids. It sought to prevent the Osceola County health department from accessing an $8.3 million federal grant to help expand two health clinics and build a new one and rejected $50 million worth of disease prevention funding. (The state did accept a $2.6 million abstinence-only sex ed grant provided through Obamacare.) "Everything they thought was remotely connected to the Affordable Care Act was rejected," says former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, who is planning a run against Scott in 2014. "Somehow this governor had in his mind that if we reject the money, it reduces the deficit. Nothing could be further from the truth. It just goes to other states."
Oh, and also:
ut of all the big pots of federal money that Florida has rejected, none quite compares with Scott's moves to block Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid to the working poor. Today, a single parent with two children can't qualify for Medicaid in Florida if she makes more than $3,200 a year—one of the nation's lowest eligibility levels. Obamacare provides funding to raise that ceiling to $25,390 for a family of three. The federal government would pick up 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for the first three years, and 90 percent in later years—sending about $73 billion in new funding to the state in the next decade, with Florida's share of the bill totaling just $9 billion. "At the most, the state would have to spend 10 cents for every dollar" it gets back, explains Laura Goodhue, the executive director of Florida Community Health Action Information Network, a nonprofit group that advocates for the uninsured. But Scott has said even that is too much.
We're not holding our breaths on this one. We can't afford to.  
Scroll to read more Orlando Area News articles
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Orlando Weekly Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.