(Pic via arcc-cdac.ca)
(Pic via arcc-cdac.ca)

Family planning in state Medicaid overhaul still raising questions

By | 08.11.11 | 4:54 pm

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (aka AHCA) recently submitted the state’s Medicaid overhaul proposal to the federal government — and reproductive rights advocates say there are still lingering questions about equal access to family planning services for Medicaid beneficiaries.

Planned Parenthood of Florida recently sent a petition to AHCA, warning the state agency that a provision in the state’s Medicaid overhaul plan allowing providers to opt out of providing family planning services “due to an objection on moral or religious grounds” could restrict access to a federally required service.

Judith Selzer, a policy director for Planned Planned in Florida, says there is very little written about the state’s plans for family planning in AHCA’s proposal, which does little to ease the organization’s unease with the opt-out provision. ”We still have the same concerns,” she says.

AHCA’s proposal includes a list of “covered and excluded services” for providers in the “Statewide Managed Medical Assistance Program.” In it, AHCA writes that “the managed care plans will be required to cover, at a minimum” a list of about 30 services.

Included in that list:

h) Family planning services and supplies. Pursuant to 42 C.F.R. s. 438.102, plans may elect to not provide these services due to an objection on moral or religious grounds, and must notify the Agency of that election when submitting a reply to an invitation to negotiate.

In essence, AHCA maintained the language the state Legislature used when writing its bill.

AHCA previously told The Florida Independent that women would be able to use a “fee for service” program if their provider chooses to not provide family planning services.

“Recipients will have the opportunity to choose a health plan with full awareness of the plan services including family planning,” AHCA wrote. AHCA said that if a plan elects not to provide family planning services, “the plan enrollees will have access to these very same services through [a] fee-for-service provision outside of the plan.”

Selzer tells The Florida Independent that AHCA’s proposal does not make clear how this program will work, and that some women might have a hard time gaining access to family planning services.

“Women are still left not knowing,” she says.

Florida’s plan includes the provision because Catholic Services requested the language. State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, told legislators that the amendment came at the request of “Catholic Services” when it was added to the bill.

Selzer says it is not surprising that the current language is vague. She does say, however, that she believes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “will note their concerns.”

“CMS has made it clear that family planning services have to be in there,” she says.

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