State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is set to unveil his plan for achieving Medicaid savings next week. The Associated Press offers a preview of what that plan might look like:
Florida Senate leaders may propose cutting dentistry, optometry and mental health services for Medicaid patients as they try to curb the program’s budget, which is expected to top $21 billion next year.
The emerging Senate bill calls for making cuts in so-called optional services as well as increasing reimbursement rates and limiting legal liabilities for primary care doctors. Although the increased reimbursement rates would cost more, senators want to encourage primary care doctors to continue taking Medicaid patients.
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, did not specify an amount, but said the reimbursement rate increase would be more than 2 percent. The bill will require patients to make an appointment with a primary care physician within 30 days of signing up for Medicaid.
“We’re only going to be able to fund essential services,” said Negron, who chairs the budget subcommittee that oversees Medicaid. “My goal is that the Medicaid benefit will be comparable to what a citizen in the private sector has, not worse and certainly not better.”
That is essentially the plan Negron outlined when his committee first started weighing the issue: Cut “optional” services in the short term, and, assuming the state can get federal permission, shift to a managed-care model for the long term.