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State seeks Medicaid managed-care extension

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration will start holding public meetings Tuesday as it moves forward with seeking federal approval of a three-year extension of the state's Medicaid managed-care program.

The current federal approval for the program is scheduled to expire June 30, and the proposal seeks an extension through June 30, 2020.

State lawmakers in 2011 passed a controversial plan to require most Medicaid beneficiaries statewide to enroll in HMOs or other types of managed-care plans. Federal approval of such decisions, however, is required through what is known as a Medicaid "waiver."

The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday at its Tallahassee headquarters as part of a process of gathering public input about the proposed extension. That will be followed by meetings Thursday and Friday in Tampa and Miami.

In an overview of the proposal posted online, the agency said it is not "proposing any substantive changes in the renewal" of the managed-care program. The agency, however, is not requesting an extension of the state's Low Income Pool, which has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars a year to hospitals that serve large numbers of poor and uninsured patients.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has already told the state that the so-called LIP program, which has been part of the waiver, will not be extended beyond the middle of 2017.

"The agency is exploring other avenues to continue this level of funding," the overview posted online said.