If you’re in Florida, and you’re on Medicaid, and you’re a smoker, now might be a good time to consider quitting.
During a press conference offering more details on pending reform efforts for the program that provides medical care for the poor and the disabled, state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, who is spearheading the process as the chairman of the Senate health budget subcommittee, said that new restrictions on eligibility would not be a major feature of the state’s plan to save $1 billion on the program in the upcoming year.
Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, did explain one potential restriction: People should be required to maintain their health and follow doctors’ orders or face penalties.
He gave three examples: smokers who don’t begin a physician-monitored cessation program, drug addicts and alcoholics who don’t make medically-directed efforts to kick their habits, and obese people who fail to lose weight. There will be “incentives” under the program to encourage them to change their behavior, he said.
Gaetz said that when his doctor suggested he shed a few pounds, he began hearing from nurses at Blue Cross (which apparently manages his health plan), who was checking up on how his weight loss plan was going.
The same should be true for people whose health care is paid for by taxpayers, he said.
Negron said Medicaid already has penalties, rarely used, for other forms of “non-compliance,” such as not showing up for appointments.
The waiting list to enroll in Florida’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program grew to almost 1,200 (.pdf) people in early January, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, known as NASTAD.