Florida’s Proposed Changes To Medicaid Long-Term Care Raise Questions

Florida is proposing to make significant changes in its Medicaid Long-Term Care program, impacting as many as 84,000 current beneficiaries as well as another 27,000 individuals who are on various waiting lists. The primary direction the state is seeking to go is to move almost all long-term care beneficiaries into capitated managed care.

These beneficiaries are a particularly vulnerable and costly group, generally in fair or poor health, with little income and few resources.

To understand more about how the proposed changes will affect this population – and their families, caregivers and others in the state – the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Winter Park Health Foundation asked researchers at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute to examine the proposed changes to the Long-Term Care program.

In their recently-released briefing paper, the researchers raised questions about the following key issues:

  • Have adequate time and resources been allocated for implementation of the new program? Researchers concluded that the proposed timeframe not only is short, but the legislation did not provide additional resources to cover most start-up costs.
  • How will beneficiaries transition from existing to new programs? Researchers raised questions about the strategies for helping beneficiaries make informed decisions as well as concerns about ensuring that services continue without interruption.
  • How will the changes increase access to community-based services given the limited capacity and extensive waiting lists that currently exist? The brief concludes that “it may be difficult to achieve a large increase in the number of people in nursing facilities who move to the community,” for multiple reasons.
  • What will be the impact on program costs? The researchers note that the potential for savings in Florida may not be as great as in other states because spending already is relatively low. Whether the proposed changes will save money is not clear.

This report is part of an ongoing study of Florida Medicaid and its impact on the 3.1 million Floridians who rely on Medicaid for their health coverage (read about previous briefs in the study).

To learn more, read the complete briefing paper – Proposed Medicaid Long-Term Care Changes Raise Host of Questions About Impact – which can be found at www.dupontfund.org, www.wphf.org and hpi.georgetown.edu/floridamedicaid.

– Mary Kress Littlepage, KBT & Associates, for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Winter Park Health Foundation

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