Florida Legislature gets ready to handle the Medicaid issue

Florida is making plans on how to handle Medicaid

The state of Florida could very soon ask those who are on Medicaid to work to receive the benefit. The Florida Legislature is moving on a bill that would require able body people to work, be actively looking for employment or at the very least be in an education program aimed at job training to qualify for the medical benefits.

Also, those not working could be asked to be pay a modest fee monthly based on their income. There would be a 60-day grace period and should a person presently on Medicaid not meet the new requirements they will be purged from the rolls.

There was some bi-partisan support for this plan in the 14-2 vote by the Florida House committee of Health and Human Services. The committee passed the proposal offered by the chairman Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park.

At present only people with disabilities, children, pregnant women, low income seniors and adults with dependent children are eligible for Medicaid in the state. That makes the Sunshine State one of the toughest places in the United States to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

According to the independent Kaiser Family Foundation the key number is an annual income of $6,652 for a family of three qualifies for eligibility.

Part of the problem in Florida comes from their failure not to be one of the states who chose not to take Medicaid Expansion when it as offered last year by the Obama administration. In the 33 states that accepted the Medicaid Expansion money, the eligibility limits are close to $30,000 for a family of three. Florida covers children whose parents earn almost $30,000.

“Medicaid eats up roughly 30 percent or so of our budget and just keeps rising tremendously,” Cummings said. “We just feel that when someone has a little skin in the game, even if it’s just 10 bucks a month, that they may take that more seriously, that it can help the system function better and help control cost.”

The proposal does have critics who feel that this bill places a burden on the poor and could make it more difficult to escape poverty. They argue that asking families to pay even a modest amount of money based on their monthly income could force them to choose healthcare of food or even the gas needed to go to work.

But for now the House bill even if passed must be moved through the Senate and for now that is not on the docket. But even if the Senate were to pass the bill without changing anything it still could not become law.

Tom Price the new head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services reached out to all of the governors in a letter. In his letter Secretary Price urged the “innovations that build on the human dignity that comes with training, employment and independence.”

He further recommended “reasonable, enforceable” premiums as a way to prepare Medicaid recipients for commercial health insurance.

For now the Florida Legislature is making plans that whenever the time comes they are set handle the highly contentious Medicaid issue.

Quotes in the story came from Associated Press. 

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.