May 31, 2018

Website Glitch Prevents Public Comments

Julio Ochoa of Health News Florida writes:

“A national group has asked the federal government to extend the deadline for public comment on Florida’s proposed Medicaid changes after a glitch on prevented submissions.

The National Health Law Program sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday that said it received multiple reports from individuals and organizations that were unable to submit comments.

The 30-day public comment period ends on June 5 and the letter asks that the deadline be extended for at least one week after repairs to the website. A spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services said the website was repaired on Tuesday afternoon and the agency is considering a deadline extension.

Florida needs federal approval to reduce the amount of time that patients have to sign up for Medicaid after they begin receiving care. The Legislature passed the proposal, which would cut retroactive eligibility from 90 days to 30 days, at most. Under the policy, patients who are eligible for Medicaid would be required to apply within the same calendar month that they received services.

The Legislature estimated that the change would save Florida $98 million.

It’s not clear when in the 30-day public comment period that stopped allowing submissions. But Anne Swerlick, an attorney with the Florida Policy Institute, said until Wednesday, there were no comments posted to the site. Comments are typically posted soon after they are submitted, she said.

Swerlick said her comments were eventually accepted but she fears others may have given up after experiencing problems.

‘That means that the federal government is not going to get the full breadth of input on the harm that this cut could mean for Floridians,’ Swerlick said. ‘They need this information in order to make a decision that’s based in sound policy and facts.’"


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