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FPI Weighs In: Bill Requiring AHCA to Provide Medicaid Managed Care Plan Transparency Would Reduce Race & Ethnic Health Care Disparity

Photo of new born baby with caption: AHCA Medicaid transparency will help even the tiniest
Photo by Christian Bowen via Unsplash | Columbia County Observer graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Rampant health and health care disparities for Florida’s minority populations and those who are income challenged would be reduced by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration providing transparency on Medicaid Managed Care Plans.

The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) says that legislation before the Florida Legislature would shed light on how Medicaid Managed Care Plans serve Floridians across race, ethnicity, and other demographics. FPI says “the legislation would help reduce rampant health and health care disparities.”

Medicaid is the health care safety net for low-income Floridians. Medicaid is a partnership of the federal and state governments established to provide coverage for health services for eligible persons. The program is administered by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and financed by federal and state funds.

HB 855 and SB 1258 have cleared all legislative committees with unanimous votes and are ready to be taken up on the Senate and House floors.

widiget: what is AHCAThe legislation would require the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to break down Medicaid Managed Care Plans' performance measure data based on race, ethnicity, disability, and other demographics; to publicly report these measures and use them to monitor plan performance.

The measures that AHCA would have to make publicly available under HB 855/SB 1258 include data on prenatal care, comprehensive diabetes care, medication management for people with asthma, and follow-up care after ER visits due to drug dependence and mental illness.

Both the Senate and House bill analysis do not explain why AHCA will not be required to provide this updated information until 2026.

FPI pointed out in a 2019 report the Medicaid program provides a unique opportunity to address racial and ethnic health disparities. Thirty-five percent of Medicaid enrollees are Hispanic, 25 percent are Black, and most are enrolled in managed care plans.

FPI’s CEO, Sadaf Knight, said: “Our health care system is in dire need of repair, and existing disparities were only exacerbated with the rise of COVID. Having publicly available data on things like hospital readmissions and child well-care check-ups by race, ethnicity, and other demographics should drive policy-making decisions that reduce disparities and improve the health and well-being of every Floridian.”

Senate sponsor Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens) said: “We know that health disparities are a problem in Florida, but without more data from our Medicaid providers, we will never be able to tackle them effectively. I appreciate the bipartisan and unanimous support for this bill — it shows that all of us care about better understanding and addressing health disparities in Florida, and holding Medicaid providers to high standards for all Floridians, no matter your race, ethnicity, preferred language, or disability status."

House sponsor Robin Bartleman (D-Weston) said: "I'm proud to sponsor this common-sense legislation, which will give us some much-needed insight into health and health care disparities in Florida. Requiring greater transparency around how managed care plans are serving Medicaid recipients across different demographics can help guide decisions we make at the state level to ensure state health dollars are being spent effectively and efficiently."

FPI’s Knight added: “In recent years, while AHCA has reported significant improvement on managed care plans’ performance measures, it does not tell the whole story. There is no requirement in Florida law that AHCA collect and report this data broken down by race, ethnicity, primary language, sex, or disability. Experts agree that collecting this stratified data is an essential first step for developing targeted strategies to eliminate health disparities.”


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