Quietly, over the past six years, an experiment in providing healthcare for the poor has been playing out in Broward and four other counties around the state. Its basic goal is to relieve the financial pressures of Medicaid on Florida’s taxpayers by turning over poor and disabled patients to private companies, a move lawmakers believe will cut costs.
Conservatives love the Medicaid reform program, pointing to an in-depth University of Florida study indicating that the experiment has lowered costs while not raising consumer complaints. The Legislature has already approved a slightly modified model of the reform to go statewide. At least one national think tank believes it should be a model for the entire country.
Liberals decry the effort as a way to build corporate profits at the expense of the poor. Howard Mallinger, a Sunrise retiree, thinks they’re right. He has two adult sons with mental health problems who are in a Medicaid health maintenance organization. The HMO frequently won’t provide their medications, or is slow to approve them, causing their health issues to spiral out of control, Mallinger says.
One son has been involuntarily committed under Florida’s Baker Act 44 times in the past five years, he says. That often means expensive three-day hospital confinements. “The joke is on the taxpayer,” Mallinger says.
More from John Dorschner here.