Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Medicaid Policies Are Election Issue | Candidates Polled on Payments and Reawssignment

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Medicaid Policies Are Election Issue | Candidates Polled on Payments and Reawssignment

Article excerpt

An editorial yester-day__ focused on the__ near-unanimous view__ among candidates running__ for state Senate District 23__ that Florida's Medicaid pro-gram__ provides an insufficient,__ if not worse, quality of care for__ children.__ This consensus is instructive__ because the race in this Sarasota__ County-based district has__ attracted a broad range of candidates__ -- and three of them are__ Republicans who have served__ in the conservative House of__ Representatives.__ In response to a question in__ the Herald-Tribune's Voter__ Guide (heraldtribune.com/__ voterguide), only one of the__ seven candidates -- Republican__ state Rep. Doug A. Holder -- said__ children enrolled in Florida's__ Medicaid programs receive__ "good quality care."__ The other responses ranged__ from "poor" to "less than__ adequate."__ While Medicaid is a federal- state partnership for__ low-income Americans,__ states have wide latitude to set__ reimbursement rates and, as__ Florida has done, they can pay__ private-sector, managed-care__ companies to administer the__ plans.__ Floridians deserve a good__ return on their investment in__ these plans and, most impor-tant,__ children should receive__ prompt, high-quality care.

OUR VIEW

Medicaid covers 42 percent of all__ Florida's children.__ Evidence in a class-action__ lawsuit, which Florida agreed to__ settle by promising "improved__ quality outcomes and higher__ standards of care," combined__ with a recent survey of__ pediatricians and reporting by__ journalists -- including Maggie__ Clark of the Herald-Tribune__ -- point to problems that need__ solutions. Two recurring themes__ are:__ n Low payments, even by__ government standards, to physicians__ and other health-care__ providers for services rendered.__ For example: Medicaid in__ Florida pays a pediatric provider__ $69 for treating a critically ill__ child; Medicare, the federal pro-gram__ that covers most seniors,__ pays $146 for the same type of__ visit.__ n Reassignment of children__ to new plans or doctors without__ their knowledge.__ As we wrote in June, two-thirds__ of the 131 pediatricians__ who responded to a recent__ survey reported an increase in__ patients who had been unknowingly__ reassigned. …

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