In what one child advocate and children’s rights attorney called a “landmark” ruling in support of protections for the state’s poor and most vulnerable citizens, a federal judge ruled recently that Florida’s Medicaid program violates several federal laws when it comes to healthcare for children.
Howard Talenfeld, director of the statewide child advocacy group Florida’s Children First, called the ruling by Judge Adalberto Jordan that found the care provided through the insurance program for the poor failed to “promote quality of care or equal access” for kids, according to news reports.
“In his 153-page ruling, Jordan wrote that the most significant, though not sole, reason was financial: The state’s Medicaid budget was set so low that payouts to doctors were far below market rate for their services. Because of this, many doctors chose not to accept the insurance plan instead and avoid being forced to accept those lower payments,” WLRN reported.
Talenfeld said Judge Jordan’s ruling was a watershed moment not witnessed in Florida in two decades.
“We have not seen anything like this since the 1990s,” he said. “What this judge has done is he has recognized that there are certain basic principles that the State of Florida must follow if it’s going to accept Medicaid money.”
The next step is for Judge Jordan to seek a remedy for the current policy. He soon will set a hearing for how to correct the state’s funding system. He said he would schedule the hearing by month’s end.