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Updated: Florida’s Senior Care Community Worries as Senate Considers Permanent Cut to Medicaid

Send a letter to the Senate in support of Medicaid!

Last year, the Florida legislature approved a one time cut to Medicaid. This year they are considering making that cut permanent.

Floridians are only eligible for up to 30 days of retroactive coverage once they qualify for Medicaid. This is less than the 90 days originally granted by Florida’s Retroactive Medicaid Eligibility (RME). During the 2018 session, Florida lawmakers voted to cut the RME period for non-pregnant adults over 21. The 30-day policy went into effect on Feb. 1 and will remain in place until June 30 unless state lawmakers vote to extend the change.

The bill, SB 192, has already passed out of the Senate Health Policy Committee. (Read More from the Florida Policy Institute)

Under this plan, pregnant women and children are still eligible for 90 days of coverage, but it leaves three critical groups of people vulnerable to medical debt and bankruptcy: seniors, adults with disabilities and parents taking care of minor children. They would only have coverage going back to the first day of the month that the person applies. If an eligible parent or senior files on March 28th, Medicaid would only pay for coverage going back to March 1st. If an application is filed on March 4th, Medicaid will still only cover expenses up to March 1st.

The implication for Florida’s seniors is what has senior care professionals worried. Kelly Wilson, Florida Voices for Health's Aging & Disability Consumer Advocate, owned and operated a residential style ALF for 7 years. According to Kelly:

Social, emotional, legal and financial factors are unique to each individual when transitioning to a long-term care setting. Our 70, 80 year and up population navigate this complicated system as best they can.

The security of retroactive coverage availability, when needed, has been integral to ensuring access to care and services for our older Floridians for the many years I have worked in this field. We need to carefully examine the long-term impact of this elimination policy before any permanent change is considered.

The majority of nursing home admission decisions are made during hospitalizations. Most people do not plan to go into a nursing home unless it is for a short-term rehab stay that is covered by Medicare for the elderly. The transition of a person from a hospital to a nursing home for a long-term stay may be both traumatic and hectic.

Medicaid established retroactive eligibility as a safeguard for individuals and caregivers faced with these difficult placement decisions. It gives people time to understand and apply for assistance with the high cost of nursing home care. Most Floridians do not know what this will mean for aging parents who have a stroke and don’t realize they may need Medicaid-funded long-term care, including nursing home placement, until they have used up their Medicare benefit, which only covers short-term rehab stays.

The bill was heard on March 13 by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Committee and approved by a 6 to 4 vote. The bill will now move on to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Send the committee a letter in support of this crucial program for Florida’s seniors!

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