Thursday, December 14, 2017
Politics

Pediatricians worry about special-needs kids in Medicaid transition

TALLAHASSEE — Florida pediatricians say an expected legislative move heightens worries about what will happen to young special-needs patients as the state privatizes the Children's Medical Services program over the next three months.

The changes are part of a larger transition for Medicaid patients from a fee-for-service delivery system to one in which they would be enrolled in prepaid health plans. Thanks to a 2011 law revamping Medicaid, Children's Medical Services must make the transition to managed care by Aug. 1.

Some pediatricians say the transition has been poorly planned and late in getting the word out and contracts signed.

"This means the 70,000 CMS children will be thrust into the unknown," said Sam Bell, a retired lobbyist who helped start Children's Medical Services while he was a lawmaker from Volusia County in the 1970s. "These kids are going to be out there without medical homes and unable to get services. It's going to be a crisis."

Pediatricians thought they had a stopgap in Senate Bill 2512, which extended CMS as a fee-for-service option throughout the changeover. But Sen. Denise Grimsley, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, said Wednesday that the Senate would accept a House Medicaid bill (HB 5201), which does not contain that option.

"I don't think it's needed," said Grimsley, R-Sebring. "The Department of Health and (Agency for Health Care Administration) are both telling us CMS is ready."

Department of Health communications director Nathan Dunn said his agency objected to the fee-for-service option because it could delay the rollout of Medicaid managed care.

Justin Senior, deputy secretary for Medicaid at the Agency for Health Care Administration, said that kids enrolled in Children's Medical Services can stay there in fee for service until Aug. 1 if their parents so choose.

But pediatricians say families aren't being informed of that.

Louis St. Petery, a pediatric cardiologist and executive vice president of the Florida Pediatric Society, said he's been getting calls from worried parents. He pointed to families that had already chosen a Medicaid HMO, thinking they were choosing Children's Medical Services, and were taken off the CMS rolls as a result.

"The nurses were telling me they can't even make appointments for my patients down the road, and they've got to right this wrong," St. Petery said. "They've got to get them back in the CMS network. This is crazy."

Bell and St. Petery say they've tried repeatedly to address their concerns directly to DOH and AHCA, but that communications between the state and the pediatricians are further complicated by a lawsuit that has been pending for years.

Comments
William March: AG candidate Ashley Moody called ‘liberal;’ bill takes Orlando money for Tampa transit

William March: AG candidate Ashley Moody called ‘liberal;’ bill takes Orlando money for Tampa transit

Ideological divides in Florida’s Republican attorney general primary race are producing some early negative campaigning, with a strong Tampa Bay area flavor.State Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, one of four candidates, has attacked the early frontrunn...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Nationally, the word "evangelical" has become in recent years nearly synonymous with "conservative Republican" and Alabama is one of the most evangelical states in the country. But in Alabama, there is a difference: black Christians.While in many par...
Published: 12/13/17
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on Wednesday to fill fellow Democrat Al Franken’s Senate seat until a special election in November, setting up his longtime and trusted adviser for a potentially bruising 2018...
Published: 12/13/17
Elections chief: Automatic recount unlikely in Alabama race

Elections chief: Automatic recount unlikely in Alabama race

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Still-uncounted ballots are unlikely to change the outcome of the U.S. Senate race in Alabama enough to spur an automatic recount, the state’s election chief said Wednesday as Democratic victor Doug Jones urged Republican Roy Moore...
Published: 12/13/17
Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trump’s turf

Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trump’s turf

The Democrats’ seismic victory Tuesday in the unlikely political battleground of Alabama brought jubilation — and a sudden a rush of confidence — to a party that has been struggling to gain its footing since Donald Trump won the presidency 13 months ...
Published: 12/13/17
Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and co...
Published: 12/12/17
Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Korea’s growing nuclear w...
Published: 12/12/17
Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, has asked the House Intelligence Committee to open an investigation into leaked information related to his closed interview with the committee last week."To maintain the credibility of the in...
Published: 12/12/17
Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

WASHINGTON -— It’s the lock that launched a two-year investigation and took down a president. And now more than four decades later — and for a starting bid of $50,000 — it can be a really wonky conversation piece.Nate D. Sanders Auctions will auction...
Published: 12/12/17
Democrats say Trump’s tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

Democrats say Trump’s tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

WASHINGTON — Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anyth...
Published: 12/12/17