Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Medicaid HMO to Quit Serving 28,000 in State

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Medicaid HMO to Quit Serving 28,000 in State

Article excerpt

A Jacksonville-based health plan that won high marks for the

quality of care it provides to the poor notified state officials

yesterday that it's calling it quits in Florida.

HealthCare USA intends to shut down its Florida health

maintenance organization by June 30, leaving nearly 28,000

Medicaid recipients to scramble for a new managed care plan.

The company, which was founded in Jacksonville in 1992,

provides health insurance to nearly 13,800 people locally,

according to state data. The health plan also has a small

number of commercial customers.

"HealthCare USA did not see Florida as a viable market for

their future," said Sandy Berger, a spokeswoman for the Agency

for Health Care Administration, which oversees all Medicaid

HMOs.

Company officials went to Tallahassee yesterday to discuss an

acceptable plan for phasing out their service, she said.

Under Florida's Medicaid managed care program, plans that

provide care to the poor must provide 90 days' notice before

they leave the market to ensure an orderly transition, she said.

State officials implemented a mandatory Medicaid managed care

program in the last several years as a means of putting a lid on

the program's cost and in order to better serve Medicaid

recipients, she said.

HMOs do a better job providing Medicaid recipients primary and

preventive care, an incentive the prior fee-for-service

arrangement for Medicaid lacked, she said.

Officials at HealthCare USA, which is now owned by Nashville,

Tenn.-based Coventry Corp., declined to comment yesterday.

The company employs about 100 people in Jacksonville, with 75

of those workers in a service center that also supports

HealthCare USA's operations in Missouri and Pennsylvania.

The number of employees who will be affected by the company's

decision to stop operating its HMO in Florida was unclear.

Despite receiving top-quality ratings in two consecutive annual

health care administration agency surveys, HealthCare USA has

experienced a series of setbacks here in the last two years.

In mid-February, state officials awarded 25 companies a claim

to a share of the state's $6. …

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