Health Plans Ready to Vie for Medicaid Contracts in Florida

By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

With Florida gradually moving toward a statewide Medicaid managed-care system, 14 health plans are ready to compete for contracts to provide long-term care to seniors.

The health plans met a deadline last week for submitting documents that will be used by the state Agency for Health Care Administration, as it works to award contracts in 11 different regions of the state.

Six companies, including some major names in the managed-care industry, submitted documents to seek contracts in each region, according to AHCA. Those companies are American Eldercare, Coventry Health Care of Florida, Humana, Sunshine State Health Plan, United Healthcare of Florida and WellCare.

Three firms —- Freedom Health, Molina Healthcare and Universal Health Care —- are bidding in eight regions, while five others are seeking contracts in three or fewer regions.

Michael Garner, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Association of Health Plans, said AHCA will use information from the documents in a scoring system that ultimately will lead to the agency negotiating contracts with a limited number of plans in each region.

Michelle Dahnke, an AHCA spokeswoman, said in an email that the agency is expected to review the documents —- known as responses to an “invitation to negotiate” —- until November. She said negotiations are expected to last from Nov. 13 to Jan. 4.

A lingering question remains about when, or even if, the federal government will approve Florida’s plan to move to a statewide system of managed care.

Republican lawmakers in May 2011 approved a controversial overhaul that would eventually enroll almost all Medicaid beneficiaries in HMOs or other types of managed care plans. Supporters say the idea will help hold down costs and improve a fragmented system of care, while critics warn that HMOs could scrimp on care for needy Floridians.

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