W E L C O M E  TO  F L O R I D A  U N I T E D  F O R  C H O I C E

                          *We are fundamentally opposed to the aspect of Medicaid Reform that entrusts the coordination and care of the developmentally disabled
                                                                                       of Florida to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's). 



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                                              News Update 
This website is not being kept up to date at this time since HMO was defeated. For current info on APD related info
refer to:   
http://waiverprovider.com/ or www.supportcoordinators.com  or www.GeorgeAndrew.com or  www.APDcares.org

                                                                FLORIDA UNITED FOR CHOICE -
*********  Last scheduled legislative day of session
March 9, 2012 !!  ****************
January 10, 2012 to March 9, 2012  Florida Legislature Session Dates.   SB 1516 APD bill makes changes to program.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Click on Florida Senator / Representative to contact.
  The Florida Legislature House and Senate will meet on
January 10, 2012 to begin their session.
  You can view the House LIVE on internet when in session.
  Daily Senate broadcast schedule when in session.

Gov Rick Scott - APD dollar budget cuts $170 million 20% cut (MS Word) downloads /
                                 -Overall budget recommendations (pdf)
   15% cut to APD was restored eff 4-16-11 but Senate still has not funded monies needed.

   Gov Scott orders Inspector General to review APD books. APD head C. Littlefield resigns.

Here is House bill / summary proposing managed care for APD.
   Read Proposed Senate summary or detailed bill on APD changes / HMO

   The joint conference committee members of House and Senate will determine if APD
   goes to managed care HMO or not. Senate bill > no HMO, House bill > yes to HMO.

Senate Chairperson of the subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations. Senator Negron indicated
   his managed care proposal would not include the DD population.    Read articleHouse still has the HMO version. 
   Both House and Senate bill versions can change with amendments,  so we will be watching, reporting and remaining a
   voice to the 31,000+ DD people.  See above summary.
We want to thank Sen Negron and committee members that
  have / will vote to keep APD out of the HMO model. Senator Negron, the chairman of the Senate Health & Human
   Services Committee wants the I-Budget left in place so that people can coordinate their own health care services within
   a set annual amount. We would ALSO like to thank families, providers and support coordinators your recent support in
  contacting the senate and next the House concerning the HMO takeover of Medwaiver.   Thanks to your efforts, the
  proposed Senate bill exempts people with developmental disabilities from Medicaid reform.

                                                         Action Needed Today 
  The House is set to release their bill shortly.  Thousands of you were just notified by us. The proposed House bill would
 require the developmentally disabled population to enroll in managed care (HMO) after 5 years. Please write or call the
 Representatives listed below and ask them to produce a bill that is in agreement with the Senate Bill which exempts
 people with disabilities. The massive number of emails and calls that the Senate received definitely made a difference! 
 We need to do the same to the House committee members this week!!

 Emails from Senator Gaetz
 Some of you received a response email from Senator Gaetz which made it sound like we were over-reacting to the 
 situation.   Our reason for asking you to call and email the Senate committee was because there was a joint resolution 
 signed by both the House and Senate late last year.  According to Representative / House Speaker Dean Cannon, the
 resolution “ articulates the concepts that essentially embodied the House proposal from last year”.

 This resolution caused our team from Florida United for Choice to believe that the Senate would adopt the same HMO 
 option as the House had last year and therefore we felt it necessary to let the Senate know the adverse affects on our
 Medwaiver population.  We obviously accomplished our goal.

CALL AND EMAIL TODAY!!  Here are the members of the House Health & Human Services Committee:

 Rep. Schenck, chair  Robert.schenck@myfloridahouse.gov                352-688-5005

Rep. Gonzalez         edwardo.gonzalez@myfloridahouse.gov            305-364-3066

Rep. Jones             mia.jones@myfloridahouse.gov                         904-924-1615

Rep. Albritton          ben.albritton@myfloridahouse.gov           863-534-0073

Rep. Bernard          mack.bernard@myfloridahouse.gov                  561-650-6880

Rep. Corcoran         Richard.cocoran@myfloridahouse.gov               727-816-1580

Rep. Cruz               janet.cruz@myfloridahouse.gov                         813-673-4673

Rep. Harrell             gayle.harrell@myfloridahouse.gov           772-398-2786

Rep. Holder             doug.holder@myfloridahouse.gov                     941-918-4028

Rep. Hudson           matt.hudson@myfloridahouse.gov           239-417-6270

Rep. Kreegal           paige.kreegel@myfloridahouse.gov                   941-575-5820

Rep. Logan             ana.logan@myfloridahouse.gov                        305-275-5820

Rep. Pafford           mark.pafford@myfloridahouse.gov                    561-682-0156

Rep. Porth              ari.porth@myfloridahouse.gov                          954-346-2810

Rep. Renuart           Ronald.renuart@myfloridahouse.gov                 904-270-2550

Rep. Schwartz         Elaine.schwartz@myfloridahouse.gov                954-924-3813

Rep. Wood             john.wood@myfloridahouse.gov                        863-419-3470

Rep. Young             dana.young@myfloridahouse.gov                      813-835-2270

Thank you for your support of people with developmental disabilities in Florida.



   HOUSE MEDICAID REFORM funding Meeting Watch Senate or House meetings on internet

    When:   TBA, soon
  in Tallahassee

    Who: TBA

    Why:  Critical decisions on Medicaid Reform APD funding. Write, call or attend. 

    Senators on Subcommittee & Emails / phone numbers that voted on abovc bill

 Sen. Negron, Chair; Rep. negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov 1-888-759-0791  (772) 219-1665    (850) 487-5088 Consists of Martin, and parts of Indian River, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties

Sen. Rich, Vice Chair; Dem. rich.nan.web@flsenate.gov    (954) 747-7933  (850) 487-5103   Consists of parts of Broward, and Miami-Dade counties 

Sen. Gaetz, Rep. gaetz.don.web@flsenate.gov   1-866-450-4366  (850) 897-5747  (850) 487-5009  Consists of parts of Bay, Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties

Sen. Garcia, Rep. garcia.rene.web@flsenate.gov     (305) 364-3100  (850) 487-5106  Consists of part of Miami-Dade county

Sen. Oelrich, Rep. oelrich.steve.web@flsenate.gov   (352) 375-3555  (850) 487-5020  Consists of Alachua, Bradford, Gilchrist, Union, and parts of Columbia, Levy, Marion, and Putnam counties

Sen. Richter, Rep. richter.garrett.web@flsenate.gov   (239) 417-6205 (850) 487-5124 Consists of parts of Collier, and Lee counties

Sen. Sobel Dem.,  sobel.eleanor.web@flsenate.gov  (954) 924-3693  (850) 487-509 Consists of part of Broward county

November 18, 2010
The Florida Senate held a work session on 11-17-10 in Tallahassee about Medicaid reform which plans on using HMOs to administer our developmentally disabled program as well as other Medicaid funded programs.  Florida United For Choice leadership team members Laura Mohesky and Richard Stimson along with nine DD consumers attended and some testified at the hearing.  The senators became very aware that many developmentally disabled people enrolled in the APD Medicaid Waiver program would not fair well under the proposed HMO model.  Services they enjoy now would likely be reduced or terminated and they would no longer have an advocate (support coordinator) promoting their interests.
Many other concerned groups and individuals also testified at this hearing.  The senators indicated they still have a blank slate within the proposed managed care HMO model and requested ideas as to specifics.  The question they asked was how can we maintain or increase quality with less funding?
We asked lawmakers to consider how they could provide Medicaid recipients with the same budget if they go through a managed care operator?   Any cost savings to feed the private profit driven HMO providers would likely  have to be extracted from vulnerable developmentally disabled people. 

newspapers around Florida wrote stories about the work session and impact that we and other concerned parties had. Good job for everyone that attended or wrote a letter!

Special Session on November 16, 2010 asked lawmakers for an advance resolution vote on placing Medicaid under a managed care HMO for recipients which includes persons with developmental disabilities.  The Senate and House leadership wanted to solidify an early commitment from senators / representatives even before the first committee meeting & public input on this issue began. 
Take action NOW> Details below.

People First of Brevard Delegation Goes to Tallahassee.

OK folks,

As most of you are aware there is a Special Legislative Session November 16, 2010. One of the things the legislature will be doing in this session is to over-ride a number of past Governor Crist vetos--none of them affect us or the population we serve directly. The OTHER objective is to agree to a statement of intent on Medicaid reform. Just under the surface here's what's going on:
  • Incoming House Leader Dean Cannon and incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos have firm intentions of reforming Medicaid by enlisting the involvement of Managed Care Organizations and HMO's.
  • At this time, thanks mainly to Dean Cannon, the developmental disabilities community (the Medicaid Waiver) is included in this planned 'reform.' 
  • The new leaders of the House and Senate want essentially statements of loyalty from the incoming legislators that they support Medicaid Reform and the involvement of Managed Care in that process. They want to put everyone on record NOW before the committees are organized and committee leadership is delegated (a prestige issue for ALL legislators). Anyone opposing this reform can expect the cold shoulder for the rest of the upcoming session.

Florida United for Choice--our advocacy group--is sending representatives to Tallahassee to see if we can get in on the discussion. We are not on the invited list of 'expert witnesses' (managed care organizations ARE), so it is really up in the air as to whether we will even get to talk to any one.

Here's what we need to do NOW:

  • Contact your families and anyone that will ACT. Use the attached talking points and contact your House Rep and Senator's office. A few people cannot make this happen--it must be everyone. Numbers are CRITICAL. There will be no 1 or 2 'hero's' that will save this day--there must be lot's of us writing and calling.
  • We need to create pressure on the legislature NOW so that they feel some heat from the DD community on this. (As I said, they are being pressured from the HMO/Legislative leadership combination to do this.) So we need to push in the other direction. 
  • Certainly you'll be speaking to a legislative aide -- no worries; they message the legislatures on their BlackBerries about the phone calls and visits they are getting.

There is a saying I have adopted in the recent days. In the end the only people that can really save disabled people in Florida are disabled people. They and their families must rise up and we have to get that started. Do it. Do it NOW.

October 25, 2010

 It would be difficult for me to express how well our meeting with Senator Harridopolis went this morning! He was personable, allowed us nearly 25 minutes (!), wanted to have a conversation with us (!!), and...WAS NOT IN FAVOR OF PUTTING HMO'S IN CHARGE OF THE DD SERVICE SYSTEM. He was very clear about this in this meeting and expressed genuine concern for our population and what we do. 

The senator was engaged in the conversation and made it clear that he does not think that HMO's would be the right system for the developmentally disabled. 

It was good to have support on this and be clear--he prefers DD not be included in the general Medicaid Reform. Senator Harridolopis' biggest concern was how to make the existing APD/DD/Waiver system more efficient and asked for suggestions on same. I took a business card and will follow-up with him, likely meeting with him at least once more before the end of next month. Would love it if you all sent suggestions to me on this. 

***So I need each of you to help--we need to come up with concrete efficiency improvements to the Waiver as he wants to see us provide more effective delivery. Now is also the time to continue the momentum on this AND IT IS NOT TIME TO LET UP ON THE LEGISLATORS. If you rest on this one bit of good news as if things are OK you will be doing the disabled of the state (and yourselves) a real disservice as the battle is NOT won yet. You will be sorry, frankly. We need to get everyone we know to keep pushing on this: selling of the disabled of the state to HMO's will be tremendously harmful to them. *I debated on whether or not to pass this news along out of fear of fostering complacency. But I wanted you to know that this is not a 'Done Deal' by any means either way. Don't give up on what you believe in this. 

Outstanding folks!

Who We Are (what we envision ourselves as being):

·         Conceived 'Florida United for Choice' as a GRASS ROOTS movement - this allows us to avoid some of the pitfalls of other advocacy groups and organizations that have come before us. We are for carving out the developmentally disabled population of the state (excluding them) from the coming Medicaid Reform that will have HMO's take over state and independent provider supports and services.

        - We aren't going to ask for money from you - no dues other than time contributions such as emailing, calling, and preferably meeting with your local legislators.

        - We are totally in favor of networking with other parties and groups but are not going to be co-opted by their agenda. Again -- we are focused on preventing the surrendering of the entire service system over to contracted HMO's which would eliminate choice, eliminate adequate oversight, and it would create a system nearly impossible for a developmentally disabled citizen and/or their family to navigate.

 ·         Organized around a core facilitator group - it was a way of getting started, focused and organized FAST (in the last legislative session's 2 week battle for survival) but everyone who is interested in being a part can and is encouraged to be a member.

        - We are made up of providers (disabled persons, Waiver Support Coordinator (WSC)'s, Supported Living coaches, parents, family members of disabled folks, every flavor of provider, and everyone who is alarmed at the prospect of turning the services and care of disabled Floridians over to profit-hungry HMO's.
You, your friends and relatives, your caseloads, and your email distribution lists - all that adds up to VOTING POWER (or what is called in this political business we are now involved in 'Push Back.') We will need to do this together! 


Where We've Been (what happened):

 Lightening War last Legislative Session - just in case you missed history:

 ·         Bill to eliminate independent providers in favor of HMO's was introduced by Dean Cannon (next House Leader) with only one committee hearing 2 1/2 weeks before the end of the session.

 ·         Senator Harridopolis (next Senate President) called HMO's "our partners" ON THE SENATE FLOOR.

 ·         The defeat of HMO take over of Medicaid and the DD system in Florida was a BITTER pill for the HMO companies to swallow.

 ·         The HMO's did NOT go away - they kept their offices open in Tallahassee and their lobbyists are targeting key legislators NOW. They have been told by Senator Harridopilis that this is a 'Done Deal' (how's THAT for democracy in action?!)
HMO's have invested HEAVILY into key legislator's campaigns including Senator Harridopolis' and Representative Dean Cannon's campaigns.

Where We Are Now (Status):

 ·         We have met with Senator Thad Altman. He was very helpful and supportive.

        - Senator Altman is committed to helping us (*but he could definitely use support and help like letters of support/thanks and pressure on other senators from all of us to build momentum for leaving the DD system out of this mess).

 ·         Our Legislative, Lobbiest, and Tallahassee contacts have given us a good idea of where we are

        - there is some sympathy for 'Carve Out' of the DD system in the Senate with regards to Medicaid Reform

        - the House under Dean Cannon (who is in a tough re-election campaign this year) is more of a problem but both need pressure from ALL OF US to understand that Carve Out is the only way for DD

        - We are getting help through at least one Senator's office to work on the House through his contacts and we are setting up meetings with others.

 ·         We are researching 'issues' experienced with HMO's - it's out there; WellCare alone provides a wealth of reading concerning corruption and lack of oversight in the HMO model (just Google 'Wellcare Fraud')

What's Next:

 ·         PUSH BACK - this is where you all come in

        - Again, your best contribution and resource are your contact and email distribution lists - the people you are in touch with (friends, caregivers, supportive parties, caseload, etc.).

        - We need to make the Legislators uncomfortable with anything other than Carve Out of the developmentally disabled service system and have us LEFT OUT of the Medicaid Reform.

 ·         STRATEGY - here's what we need to do:  

       - There is likely no hope of avoiding HMO Reform in some form in the State of Florida BUT there IS REAL hope of having DD carved out of it.

        - We are meeting with Senator Harridopolis - there is really NO chance that we will convince him we are right that DD should be Carved Out. Our best bet (and plan) is to give him an alternate strategy when things start going south for him on the Senate Floor.

        - We CAN make things go south on the Senate Floor - by engaging our friends, families, caseloads and contact lists in emailing, letter writing, and MEETING with legislators in our area.  

       - It's not Rocket Science - you look up what district you are in on the Internet and put that information out to your contacts.

 ·         United For Choice will continue to develop letters and templates and send them out for you to use in the coming days and weeks.

        ~ Our position is that although the current system isn't perfect it is clearly the closest to the best thing we are going to get in this world.

        - Some Providers and are an issue - our contacts are telling us that many providers feel that anything is better than the system we have. This is destructive and short-sighted. Within DAYS of an HMO take over of the state these same providers will be longing for “the good old days” after trying just ONCE to get help from an HMO's 1-800 number.


    Created 9-30-10              www.FloridaUnitedForChoice.com                Webmaster:  George Andrew
    Updated 2-22-12
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