According to The News Service of Florida, Florida health officials have less than three months to develop a detailed Medicaid-overhaul plan to sell to the Obama administration. Whether or not the federal government will give Florida a go-ahead with its proposed overhaul is unclear, due to certain provisions that “conflict with basic federal laws.” Among these conflicts is a provision that allows Medicaid providers to opt-out of providing family planning services on “moral or religious grounds.”

The Medicaid reform bill recently passed by state legislators is only an outline of what will be proposed to the feds. Currently, agencies such as the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) are developing concrete proposals to show the federal government. Whether or not AHCA will fix some of these conflicts is unknown.

Among the proposals AHCA must propose is one that would allow Medicaid provider service networks to opt out of providing family planning services such as birth control, a provision added at the request of Catholic Services. The Catholic church is looking to join the provider network, but does not want to provide family planning mandated by the federal government because it goes against their religious beliefs.

Stephanie Kunkel, a spokeswoman for the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, tells the Florida Independent no other state in the country allows Medicaid providers to completely opt-out of providing a federally mandated service like family planning.

“That’s unprecedented,” she said.

AHCA has until August 1 to submit proposals. Public meetings to discuss the proposals are scheduled in Tallahassee, Duval County, Broward County, Nassau County, Clay County and Baker County starting May 21 and ending mid-June.

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