Florida settles 10-year-long Medicaid suit: 5 things to know

Florida health administrators agreed to settle a decade-long class-action lawsuit Tuesday that alleged state agencies broke federal law by failing to provide adequate funding for critical health services to children with Medicaid coverage, reports Miami Herald.  

Below are five things to know about the lawsuit.

1. Organizations representing state pediatricians and dentists, as well as individual plaintiffs, filed suit against three state health agencies in 2005 for failing to provide enough funding to support annual medical checkups and dental care to children covered by Medicaid.

2. The settlement released Tuesday comes nearly 15 months after U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The court agreed that Florida's history of low reimbursement payments to pediatricians and dentists acted as a barrier to healthcare access for low-income children. Florida's Medicaid reimbursement rates are among the lowest in the country and the state has a shortage of Medicaid specialists, according to Tampa Bay Times.

3. In 2011, Florida transitioned to a Medicaid managed care system. Under a now privatized Medicaid system, the settlement calls for steps aimed at increasing payments to physicians by requiring insurance companies to pay Medicare-equivalent rates to physicians that meet certain quality benchmarks.

4. The settlement requires the state to improve access to dental care to meet national standards and, if necessary, increase reimbursement rates to dentists. The state must also beef up its Medicaid enrollment efforts and meet certain medical benchmarks for its members during the next 2 and a half years, starting Oct. 1.

5. Finally, the settlement requires the state pay $12 million in legal fees and expenses to the plaintiffs who filed suit.

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