Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has signed into law changes that bring back DMOs such as MCNA and Dentaquest into Florida’s dental Medicaid program if all goes well.
Florida governor signs new bill relating to dental Medicaid
Florida HB 819, a bill brought about through the Florida Sunset review process, was signed by Scott last week. The state had dental Medicaid services covered as a function of HMOs since 2011 when pre-paid dental contracts with DMOs MCNA and Dentaquest were terminated.
The new law “provides for the future removal of dental services as a minimum benefit of managed care plans; requiring the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to provide a report to the Governor and Legislature; requiring the Agency for Health Care Administration to implement a statewide Medicaid prepaid dental health program upon the occurrence of certain conditions; specifying requirements for the program and the selection of providers, etc.”
Opens door to MCNA and Dentaquest return to Florida
This means that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration is to come up with a report delivered to the Legislature by December that determines how well HMOs have done in delivering dental Medicaid services. Based on the report, the Florida Legislature during the 2017 session can give dental back to the HMOs but if it doesn’t act the state must move ahead with a “five-year, non-renewable statewide Medicaid prepaid dental health program for children and adults.”
The state must then “contract with a vendor who could provide a choice of at least two licensed dental managed care providers and would require that enrollment in the Medicaid prepaid dental program begin no later than March 2019.”
Gov. Perry lobbied on behalf of MCNA
In January, former Gov. Rick Perry signed on with MCNA as a lobbyist in Florida and their chief strategy officer. Local media noticed that Perry met with Scott within days of the bill hitting the Florida legislature floor and upon inquiry found that their meeting was on behalf of MCNA about the bill to carve out dental Medicaid from the HMOs. The meeting did not appear on Scott’s public schedule until it was asked about by the media.
Bill signed despite expanded coverage and lowest costs delivered by HMOs
Scott signed the bill despite the fact that, per his own statement, “plans providing dental services within Statewide Medicaid Managed Care are operating at their highest ever performance levels in Florida and the cost per member is at the lowest in the past decade” and the current program “has resulted in expanded adult dental benefits for Medicaid recipients at no additional cost to taxpayers.”
He expressed concern in writing that “While I am giving my approval to this bill today, if the results of the study do not demonstrate better quality dental care at reduced costs than the net benefits provided under Statewide Medicaid Managed Care today, I expect the 2017 Legislature to amend the statute immediately to protect Medicaid recipients and the services they receive through Statewide Medicaid Managed Care.”