Florida Insurer Enters Medicaid System; Texas May Ask Feds For Block Grant

News outlets report on Medicaid developments in Florida and Texas.

News Service of Florida: Blue Cross To Enter Medicaid Program
In a potentially huge change, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida plans to enter the Medicaid program and compete in what likely will become a statewide managed-care system. Blue Cross, the state's largest health insurer, has stayed out of Medicaid in the past. But its new stance comes as Florida lawmakers seek to enroll almost all Medicaid beneficiaries in managed-care plans -- and as last year's federal health law prepares to funnel more people into the system (Saunders, 5/10). 

The Texas Tribune: Elderly, Disabled Fight Pay Cut To Service Providers
Advocates for the elderly and disabled are fighting a proposal in the Legislature that they say would reduce the wages of the personal care attendants who provide services through the Medicaid Community-Based Alternatives waiver program. ... The program is meant to provide an alternative for those who qualify through Medicaid for care in a nursing facility. Instead of living in an institution, those in the program get to live at home with the help of attendants who provide a range of services from minor assistance with housekeeping and preparing meals to help with showering, dressing and getting around (Smith Gonzalez, 5/11).

The Texas Tribune: House Gives First OK to Medicaid Waiver Plan
House lawmakers have given an early okay to Rep. Lois Kolkhorst's bill to ask Washington for a block grant to run Medicaid — the joint state-federal health care program for children, the disabled and the very poor — as Texas sees fit. Kolkhorst said states can seek all kinds of waivers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Texas sought one unsuccessfully during the Bush administration. Her measure would direct the state's Health and Human Services Commissioner to ask Washington to consolidate all the funding it currently provides for Medicaid, and give Texas five years worth of those funds to try out its own state-run Medicaid program (Ramshaw, 5/10).

The Texas Tribune: Despite Uproar, TX Lawmakers Pursue Medicare Overhaul
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst's "health care compact" bill, HB 5 — which would effectively ask the federal government to give Texas and other states block grants to run Medicaid and Medicare as they see fit — passed easily out of the House, and was heard in a Senate committee on Tuesday. That's despite Democrats' warnings that any effort to redesign Medicare will terrify, or potentially harm, seniors and a failed attempt by Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, to remove Medicare from the Texas compact bill. ... Republicans in the state House say they have no intention of curbing services or compromising care for the nearly 3 million Texas seniors on Medicare. But they say the health care compacts under consideration by other states are all written to include Medicare, and that they must align (Ramshaw and Werber Serafini, 5/10).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.