February 22, 2021

Bill Summary: HB 899/SB 1272

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

The problem:

Health and health care disparities in the U.S. lead to certain groups being at higher risk of more limited access to care, experiencing poorer quality of care, and ultimately experiencing worse health outcomes. They also make health care more expensive for everyone by triggering excess health care costs pegged at $93 billion annually.[1] 

Florida's Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program (SMMC) provides a valuable opportunity to reduce disparities and unnecessary costs. Through this program, over 3 million beneficiaries are enrolled in managed care plans. By law, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is required to collect “performance measure” data to monitor the quality of services provided by the plans. However, there is no requirement in state law that AHCA collect and report this data 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 disparities. Multiple states are already using performance measures to actively monitor and report on health disparities in their Medicaid managed care programs.[2]

How HB 899 and SB 1272, “Managed Care Plan Performance,” address the problem:

  • Help reduce health and health care disparities by requiring the state to disaggregate or break down SMMC performance measure data based on race, ethnicity, disability, and other demographics.
  • Assist the Legislature in fulfilling its oversight duties and stewardship of billions of taxpayer dollars allocated to Florida's SMMC.
  • Increase transparency and accountability in the SMMC by requiring the state to publicly report on managed care plan (MCO) performance measure data based on the demographics listed above. 

Why now is the time to pass HB 899 and SB 1272:

The COVID-19 health crisis has exacerbated health and health care disparities. There have been staggering rates of infection and death in communities of color due to the pandemic.[3]   

Notes

[1] Ani Turner, “The Business Case for Racial Equity, A Strategy for Growth,” W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Altarum, April 2018, https://altarum.org/publications/the-business-case-for-racial-equity-a-strategy-for-growth.

[2] Kate Reinhalter Bazinsky and Michael Bailit, Bailit Health, “How States Can Use Measurement as a Foundation for Tackling Health Disparities in Medicaid Managed Care,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, May 2019, https://www.shvs.org/resource/how-states-can-use-measurement-as-a-foundation-for-tackling-health-disparities-in-medicaid-managed-care/.

[3] APM Research Lab, “The Color of Coronavirus: COVID-19 Deaths by Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.,” February 4, 2021, https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race.

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