Senate Health Policy Committee passes three bills, defers action on three others
Don't call me, I'll call you: Telehealth will not include telephones under a bill from Manny Diaz.

Chair Manny Diaz told members the pace would pick up in the coming weeks.

The Senate Health Policy Committee rolled through its agenda Wednesday morning, passing three bills and deferring action on another three.

Senate Health Policy Committee Chair Manny Diaz, however, warned fellow committee members the pace will be picking up as the 2022 Session moves along.

“This is like spring training. Little by little we are getting you used to bills, but I promise you in the next few weeks, we will be busy,” Diaz said as the meeting adjourned.

The committee moved without fanfare a bill (SB 1080) that makes clear children in the care and custody of the Department of Children and Families — including those whose guardians receive subsidized assistance — qualify for Medicaid and specifically the child welfare specialty plan. There are about 4,000 children who qualify for the plan today, advocates say.

Sunshine Health contracts with the state’s Medicaid program to provide covered benefits to children in the system.

Legislative staff did not compute the costs of the bill but did warn in the accompanying analysis that it could have an “indeterminate negative fiscal impact.” That’s because the premium the state pays the child welfare managed care specialty plan is higher than what the state pays other Medicaid managed care plans under contract.

But advocates say there is not a requirement for children to enroll in the specialty plan. It is an option that was not offered to them before.

Florida offers payments from the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) to relatives and fictive kin that commit to providing long-term care for children in the child welfare system and meet eligibility criteria.

GAP, according to a staff analysis of the bill, is designed to provide additional services and support to caregivers of children who were removed from their primary caregiver because of abuse or neglect.

Children receiving GAP assistance are eligible for Medicaid coverage through age 21. To be eligible, a child must be completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential, enrolled in a postsecondary program, participating in an employment program or employed at least 80 hours a month. People unable to participate in educational programs or employment programs because of physical, intellectual, emotional or psychiatric conditions that limit their participation also qualify.

The committee also gave the nod to another Baxley bill (SB 498), which requires health insurance policies and HMO contracts that are issued on or after Jan. 1, 2023, to provide coverage for hearing aids for a covered child from birth through age 18 who has been diagnosed with hearing loss by a licensed physician or a licensed audiologist.

The bill requires policies or contracts to provide a minimum coverage limit of $3,500 per ear within a 24-month period. The insured or subscriber remains responsible for the cost of hearing aids and related services that exceed the coverage limit provided for in the policy or contract.

The bill’s provisions do not apply to the State Group Insurance program.

The third bill that cleared the committee was SB 1222 by Sen. Aaron Bean, dealing with patient care.

Meanwhile, the committee agreed to defer action on SB 718 by Sen. Jennifer Bradley and SBs 836 and 842 by Sen. Jason Brodeur, who has an excused absence.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • i rather be on vacation

    January 19, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    here is me loosing my religion oh no i said to much.

  • i rather be on vacation

    January 19, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    it sounds good

Comments are closed.


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