Private insurers managing the healthcare needs of low-income, disabled and elderly Floridians with Medicaid will continue to fill prescriptions for home-based health therapists, medical equipment and infusion drugs after a Miramar-based company lost the contracts to coordinate and provide those services for patients statewide.
Univita Health, a home health care company, lost all of its accounts this week with the HMOs contracted to manage the healthcare needs of Florida’s Medicaid population, according to state healthcare officials.
Univita officials could not be reached for comment Friday, but the company and its affiliates filed notices this week with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announcing plans to lay off more than 1,000 employees.
The company had been the principal subcontractor coordinating and providing home medical services for most of Florida’s 13 Medicaid HMOs, which manage the health needs of more than 3 million patients statewide, including nearly 525,000 in Miami-Dade and 255,000 in Broward.
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Most of the HMOs had hired Univita last year to coordinate and provide home health services for patients when Florida rolled out the Medicaid managed care program statewide. Univita then subcontracted with smaller home health companies to provide those services.
But many subcontractors complained that Univita had an unfair advantage because the company was a competing provider that also had the power to authorize services and to negotiate prices.
The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration or AHCA, which oversees the Medicaid program, issued an alert this week stating that home health providers subcontracted with Univita should continue providing services to patients.
But the abrupt reduction of Univita’s Florida operations — the company also does business in Georgia, Tennessee and Minnesota — has left many of its local subcontractors wondering who will pay them for the home health services and medical equipment they have already provided.
Luis Sologuren, an executive with American Homecare Equipment in Fort Lauderdale, said his company had been hired by Univita to provide oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, hospital beds and other equipment for Medicaid patients.
In May, Sologuren said, Univita stopped paying for services. He said Univita still owes American Homecare about $20,000.
“We don't know if it’s going to be paid,’’ Sologuren said. He added that patients are not in danger of losing needed services, though. “We're not going and yanking equipment from patients,’’ he said.
Regina Cacicedo, owner of the home health company Mia Global Solutions, said she would like to continue serving clients as state healthcare officials have requested.
“They say you'll get paid for the next 60 days,’’ she said. “But who's going to pay me?’’
Under the state’s Medicaid rules, HMOs are required to maintain a network of providers that is sufficient to provide all covered services. AHCA has advised home health companies that were subcontracted with Univita to contact the Medicaid HMOs about joining their networks.
Shelisha Coleman, AHCA press secretary, said in a written statement: “The agency is working with the health plans to ensure a smooth transition and that there is no lapse in service or equipment issues for Medicaid enrollees.’’