February 18, 2022

Bill Requiring Greater Transparency from State on Managed Care Plan Data Would Help Reduce Health Disparities, Think Tank Says

HB 855/SB 1258, primed for floor votes, would require the Agency for Health Care Administration to report data broken down by race, ethnicity, and other demographics

ORLANDO, Fla. - Legislation that would shed light on how Medicaid Managed Care Plans are serving Floridians across race, ethnicity, and other demographics would help to reduce rampant health and health care disparities, according to the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute. Both companion bills — 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.

Specifically, the legislation would require the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to disaggregate or break down Medicaid Managed Care Plans’ performance measure data based on race, ethnicity, disability, and other demographics; to publicly report these measures; and to use these measures to monitor plan performance.

The measures that AHCA would have to make publicly available under HB 855/SB 1258 include, among numerous others, 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.

As FPI points 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 and 25 percent are Black, and most are enrolled in managed care plans.

Sadaf Knight, CEO of FPI, 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.”

Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, 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.”

Rep. Robin Bartleman (D-Weston), who sponsored the bill in the House, 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.”

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 collection of this stratified data is an essential first step for developing targeted strategies to eliminate health disparities.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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