According to The Current, state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is encouraging members of the tea party to show up at town hall meetings concerning Florida’s Medicaid overhaul, to balance testimony from opponents of the plan.

The state Legislature this year passed a law to expand its Medicaid Reform Pilot program statewide, which will turn the majority of program recipients over to for-profit HMOs, rather than follow a fee-for-service model — in which doctors and pharmacies are reimbursed for every procedure or drug provided to Medicaid patients.

The Current reports that, during a Wednesday conference call with the James Madison Institute, Negron remarked that recent meetings have been dominated largely by those opposed to the plan and that more people representing “our side” needed to join in the discussion.

From the Current:

Negron, R-Stuart and one of the architects of the Medicaid overhaul passed by legislators, said the hearings aren’t including people who pay for their own health care and who are interested in what their tax dollars are being used for.

“It tends to be the groups that oppose what we are doing and who have the time, the energy and organization to show up during the day while a lot of people are working and doing other things,” Negron said.

During the call, Negron also remarked that he would “never support a policy that discouraged nursing home care for seniors who need it,” an issue that has been brought up by elder care attorneys at meetings across the state.

In the public comment period of a Medicaid town hall meeting held Tuesday in Jacksonville, attorney Vicki Bowers argued that forced managed care could have a snowball effect on nursing home residents, requiring them to move to the home of an adult child, where they would likely be left unattended, increasing the risk of injury.

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