barbara sharief_web.jpgBroward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief urged a Florida House of Representatives panel not to compromise equitable access to doctors and drugs in any move to reform Medicaid.

Sharief, elected to the commission last November, has nearly 20 years in the healthcare industry. She testified on  March 17 before the House Health and Human Services Committee on Medicaid Reform.

“The challenges experienced in Broward and other pilot counties should be given serious consideration in crafting the 2011 bills, as there are many concerns about the provision of quality health care services under the Pilot Program,” Sharief told the panel.

“Medicaid reform should not compromise equitable access to medical and prescription drug services and should provide flexibility based on a participant’s medical and financial means,” she said, according to a statement from her office.

Her testimony resulted in several changes and amendments in the House Bill that were included in Broward County's legislative package, the statement said.

These included:

• Use of outpatient rather than in-patient hospitalization to save costs

• Inclusion of preventative care measures

• Requiring recipients to have a three-month trial period with an option to dis-enroll

• Requirement to notify recipients of a plan change and allowing for recipients to choose a plan

• Maintaining performance standards

“Medicaid reform is truly important for our state and here in Broward County.  I have provided the Legislature with common sense solutions for this issue and they have been very receptive,” Sharief said afterwards. “I will continue fighting for the medically needy, children and the elderly who use these services.”

The bill that was passed by the committee on March 17 favors sending most Medicaid recipients in Florida to managed-care plans.

The statement said by the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Medicaid will cost Florida $28 billion, more than 33 percent of the state's budget.