Medicaid enrollees may start paying premiums, ER co-pays

Florida lawmakers have approved a bill that would levy premiums on its Medicaid enrollees and charge co-payments for their emergency room visits, reports Kaiser Health News. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign the bill into law.

If the necessary waiver is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Florida's $10 monthly premium for all enrollees not in nursing homes would make it the first state in the nation to charge Medicaid recipients regardless of income levels.

In addition to the monthly premiums, the legislation would also charge enrollees a $100 co-payment for each emergency room visit.

"This is not a budgetary decision; it's a philosophic stand," said state Rep. Matt Hudson, who chairs the Florida House of Representatives' Appropriations Health Care Subcommittee. "Everyone else in society is paying a portion of their own healthcare, including the military and retirees, so why shouldn't this segment of the population?"

The monthly premiums could raise as much as $360 million a year if everyone paid up. The ER fee would raise an estimated $9 million a year.

However, Hudson does not believe CMS would sign off on the changes unless Florida was barred from expelling enrollees who do not pay up.

For more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- read the Health Justice Network blog entry