| January 5, 2012

Obama Administration Agrees: Florida Medicaid Reform Pilot Good for Patients and Taxpayers

In original research published by The Heritage Foundation (“Florida’s Medicaid Reform Shows the Way to Improve Health, Increase Satisfaction, and Control Costs,” November 9, 2011) and also submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) during the agency’s deliberations, I showed that the program’s patients are healthier and happier with their care and that Florida taxpayers saved more than $100 million each year of the program.

The Florida reforms work by giving patients a choice of the private health plan that works best for them. Enrollees can choose from plans with varied benefits and provider networks, and a monetary rewards system creates incentives for healthy, responsible behavior. By shifting away from failed policies of central planning toward a consumer-driven program, the program has been successful on a number of levels.

The waiver extension of Florida’s patient-centered Medicaid reform preserves the expanded choices, incentives for healthy behavior, and increased health services that pilot patients have enjoyed for years. Pilot patients have better health outcomes and report higher satisfaction rates with their plans, their care, and their access to specialists than their counterparts who are confined to traditional Medicaid and commercial HMOs.

The bottom line with Florida’s Medicaid Reform is that when the patient is the priority, government and HMO bureaucrats are finally held accountable. Costs flatten and patient health and satisfaction improves.

The decision by CMS reaffirms that Florida’s Medicaid reform pilot is a national model for other states to achieve a healthier, happier Medicaid population at a lower cost to taxpayers. CMS should now move quickly to approve a planned statewide expansion of the reform so all Florida Medicaid patients can enjoy the program’s success.

Tarren Bragdon is president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, a free-market think tank in Naples, Florida.

By the Numbers…
Florida’s Medicaid Reform Pilot

5: Number of counties currently part of the Medicaid Reform Pilot (Baker, Broward, Clay, Duval, Nassau)

290,000: Number of Medicaid recipients participating in the Reform Pilot

$118 million: Estimated annual savings to Florida taxpayers achieved by the Medicaid Reform Pilot

83: Percent of Reform Pilot HMO satisfaction measures at or above national Medicaid benchmark and commercial plan benchmarks

100: Percent of Reform Pilot PSN satisfaction measures at or above national Medicaid benchmark

$901 million: Annual savings to Florida taxpayers if Reform Pilot were enacted statewide

$28.6 billion: Total annual savings nationally if Reform Pilot were replicated nationwide

By Tarren Bragdon

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