STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (EVENING EDITION): WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2015 THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

newservicefloridaBILL WOULD REVAMP MEDICAID DENTAL CARE
Reviving an issue that has sparked heavy debate, a South Florida senator Wednesday proposed creating a new dental program for children in the Medicaid program. The proposal (SB 350), filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would establish a program that would be separate from the state’s new Medicaid managed-care system. Under the proposal, the state would contract with at least two prepaid dental health plans, which would have networks of dentists throughout the state. It also would direct the Agency for Health Care Administration to seek federal approval for the program, which would be slated to take effect by Sept. 1, 2016. “The Legislature finds that an overriding concern in the design and delivery of Medicaid dental services is ensuring the dental health of children,” the bill says. “Due to the unique challenges that exist in the delivery of Medicaid dental services and considering the historical shortcomings of access to such services in this state, special attention must be given to the issues of children’s access to dental services and provider network sustainability.” Similar proposals died last year in the House and Senate, with opponents arguing, at least in part, that lawmakers should not “carve out” children’s dental services from the statewide managed-care system. Under that system, almost all beneficiaries are enrolled in HMOs and other types of managed-care plans that are required to provide a variety of health services.

JUDGE CONSIDERS NEXT STEPS IN MEDICAID KIDS CASE
After finding last month that Florida’s Medicaid program has not properly provided health care to children, a federal judge will meet with attorneys Jan. 30 to discuss what happens next in the decade-long case. Judge Adalberto Jordan issued a 153-page decision in late December that said, in part, Florida’s history of low reimbursement payments to doctors led to a lack of access to care for children in Medicaid. The decision was a victory for the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which along with other plaintiffs, filed the case in 2005. Jordan during the Jan. 30 conference will consider how to handle what is known as the case’s “remedy” phase and the state’s arguments that key issues in the lawsuit are moot. The remedy phase would involve a trial to determine what, if any, actions Jordan should direct the state to take. But the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration contends that a major overhaul of the Medicaid program during the past two years has made the case effectively moot. That overhaul has involved enrolling almost all Medicaid beneficiaries in managed-care plans. AHCA argues that the lawsuit is based on how the program was operated before the statewide managed-care system took effect. The Jan. 30 conference will be held in Miami.

TRUMBULL SET TO SEEK SECOND TERM
After cruising to election in November, state Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, has taken an initial step toward seeking a second term in 2016, according to the state Division of Elections website. Trumbull last week opened a campaign account to run for re-election in Bay County’s House District 6. He received nearly 69 percent of the vote in winning the seat in November. Meanwhile, Palm Bay Republican Randall Fine has opened an account to run in 2016 in Brevard County’s House District 53. That seat will become vacant because Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach, faces term limits. Two other candidates, Palm Bay Republican Andy Anderson and Palm Bay Democrat Santa Isabel Wright, earlier opened accounts for the District 53 race.

ASHER, SYKES TOP $23K AS SEEK OPEN SEATS
Republicans Dean Asher and Lange Sykes each raised more than $23,000 in December as they built early fund-raising leads in their campaigns for open legislative seats in 2016, according to newly filed reports on the state Division of Elections website. Asher, who is seeking to succeed term-limited Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, collected $23,250 last month, bringing his overall contribution total to $55,625. Asher and Democrat Rick Roach have opened campaign accounts to run in Senate District 13, which includes parts of Orange and Brevard counties. Roach raised $1,275 in December, giving him an overall total of $15,500. Meanwhile, Sykes, of Vero Beach, began raising money last month and collected $25,420. Sykes and Republican Erin Grall have opened campaign accounts to try to succeed term-limited Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, in House District 54, which includes Indian River County and part of St. Lucie County. Grall opened an account Jan. 5, so contribution totals are not yet available.

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