Health and Human Services Policy Committee
The FAC Health and Human Services Policy Committee held a productive meeting during the Policy Conference in Palm Beach County last month. Commissioners discussed several new policy items, including supporting efforts to assist veterans in obtaining federal health care benefits and supporting minimum state standards for sober homes. The committee also considered language related to Medicaid expansion and discussed whether it would be beneficial for FAC to support state legislation drawing down federal funds to expand health coverage to individuals who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. FAC continues to research the potential costs and savings to counties, and will have additional information for the committee at the Legislative Conference in November.
Additionally, Rep. Kathleen Peters, who represents parts of Pinellas County, and Claudia Tuck from Palm Beach County Human and Veteran Services, spoke to the committee about efforts to combat homelessness in Florida. Rep. Peters will be sponsoring legislation with Sen. Latvala to create a dedicated state funding source for homelessness programs throughout the state. Potential funding sources include doc stamp revenues or new revenues that could result from gaming legislation next session, although the specifics have not yet been finalized. FAC continues to work with the stakeholders and bill sponsors, who hope to have the bill filed by January. Additionally, input from the individual counties and homeless coalitions are encouraged.
Following the HHS Committee meeting, several attendees toured the Senator Phillip D. Lewis Center, Palm Beach County’s Homeless Resource Center. The Lewis Center is a prime example of a single-access-point resource center where individuals in need can be connected to housing and other services. FAC thanks Palm Beach County and Lewis Center staff for facilitating the tour, and also Rep. Peters, Hardee County Commissioners Birge and Colon, Palm Beach County Commissioner Berger, as well as several county staff persons for taking the time to tour the exceptional facility.
FAC staff is currently preparing for the Legislative Conference in November, where the HHS Policy Committee will finalize its policy statements and select priorities. For additional information on HHS policy issues, please contact Susan Harbin.
County Medicaid Workgroup
The FAC Medicaid Workgroup held its first meeting during the Policy Conference in Palm Beach County next month. The initial meeting was primarily educational, and members were updated on AHCA’s implementation of statewide Medicaid managed care and also received a detailed overview of SB 1520, which establishes the new county Medicaid cost share formula. Under the new formula, counties’ individual Medicaid contributions will be based solely on their respective percentage shares of the state’s total Medicaid enrollment; for example, if 1.5 percent of Florida Medicaid enrollees live in County A, then County A is responsible for 1.5 percent of the total county Medicaid contribution. This methodology, which will be phased in over five years beginning in FY 2015-16, causes concern for some counties who estimate that their costs will grow significantly. The Workgroup will work over the next year to develop recommendations for a more fair and equitable distribution of the county Medicaid contribution.
FAC will be preparing alternative distributions based on objective factors other than enrollment, such as population, for the workgroup members to review in advance of the November meeting. Other pertinent information will be distributed to the workgroup members and made available on FAC’s website in the next few weeks. For more information, contact Susan Harbin.