Attorneys who claimed millions of Florida children had failed to receive medical check-ups under Medicaid reached a milestone settlement with the state in the class-action lawsuit. The agreement followed federal lawsuits that claimed the children didn’t receive medical or dental care. In 2014, the judge in the case agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered both sides into mediation.
The attorneys representing children in this case, Stuart Singer and Carl Goldfarb with law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner, were named Florida’s Children First Child Advocates of the Year in a presentation earlier this year for their commitment to the decade-long case.
The agreement also calls for improving the Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to pediatricians, dentists, endocrinologists, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists, long considered among the lowest rates in the country. Under the agreement, insurance plans will be required to provide a “reasonable opportunity” for pediatricians to earn rates comparable to the government’s senior health plan, Medicare.
The state also must more actively reach out to eligible families and children to encourage enrollment. The state now will have to meet medical benchmarks to ensure enrollment is appropriate and children are getting appropriate care.
“It’s been a decade of hard work. It’s a comprehensive set of measures,” Singer told the Associated Press. One of Singer’s plaintiffs in the case was Thomas Gorenflo, 10, a mentally disabled and blind child who needed full-time care – and was long denied much needed surgery. Thomas died before the settlement was reached. “The children are going to be the real beneficiaries.”
State officials call the settlement “a very positive resolution” to a case it spent $7 million defending, according to news reports.