Florida doctors warn of Medicaid HMO problems


MIAMI (AP) — Florida health officials are declaring victory after transitioning the state's 3 million Medicaid recipients into private insurance plans, but some doctors and health advocates are warning their offices are filled with confused patients who say they have been cut off from their regular physician.

The Associated Press interviewed doctors, parents and health advocates around Florida who said privatization has exacerbated problems first noticed in a pilot program eight years ago. Because enrollment recently ended, the state has no data showing what services are being provided and denied.

Pediatricians said some patients weren't aware of the change and were assigned to plans and doctors they didn't select. In Florida, 55 percent of Medicaid recipients are children.

State health officials said they assigned patients to plans where they had a previous relationship with a doctor. Unhappy consumers have 90 days to switch to a new plan.

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