Recently, millions of Florida children came one step closer to receiving what they need — access to comprehensive medical and dental care.
In 2005, parents of Medicaid children, along with the Florida Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics and the Florida Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, filed a class-action lawsuit against the state in order to improve the extremely limited access of care for the more than 2 million Florida children on Medicaid.
An agreement was recently reached in this lawsuit, and a tiered plan to be implemented over several years, starting with board certified pediatricians and then extending to pediatric specialists and dentists, should provide efficient and improved healthcare for children.
A key benefit is in improved enrollment opportunities. Newborns should now be enrolled in Medicaid sooner, and children’s physicians should no longer be switched without a parent or guardian’s prior approval. This agreement will also foster cooperation between the Florida government and pediatric and dental communities, which will benefit Florida’s children.
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The work is far from finished, as there is more to be defined and implemented for the program envisioned in the agreement to come to fruition. All parties will have to collaborate to develop and implement a state-of-the-art children’s medical and dental care program. Pediatricians will have to achieve specific metrics for wellness visits and sick visits to improve delivery of care and qualify for enhanced reimbursement rates. AHCA will ensure that the state Medicaid program, over time, will meet national norms for medical and dental care.
We hope this agreement will serve as a model for other states to improve delivery of care for children. A heartfelt thank you goes to all who helped reach this victory for our children.
Beny Rub, board member, Florida chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, Tallahassee