Date:  April 5, 2001

For Release:  Immediately

Contact:  HCFA Press Office

(202) 690-6145





        HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced approval of several

changes in Florida's Medicaid program -- making good on President Bush's

commitment to give states more authority to run such programs.


        Secretary Thompson said the department worked with Florida officials

to quickly resolve the state's request to make changes to the program,

bringing resolution to some issues that have been pending for years and

hampering the state's ability to make needed improvements to its Medicaid

program. The secretary vowed to work with state officials to resolve other

pending requests from Florida in the coming weeks.


        "Our actions today make good on President Bush's promise to build a

stronger partnership with states and to provide a faster response from the

federal government," Secretary Thompson said. "We look to states to use

their Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs creatively and

effectively to expand access and improve health care for vulnerable



        The changes approved today are:


        *       Florida's plan to increase special Medicaid payments to

certain hospitals, including teaching hospitals, children's hospitals and

other hospitals that provide the majority of care to the disadvantaged and

Medicaid patients in Florida.

        *       Florida's waiver to allow Medicaid beneficiaries with

diabetes in pilot areas to receive prescribed medications and related

supplies through mail order distribution.

        *       Florida's plan to pay for personal care services to

beneficiaries who receive 24-hour, integrated care from certain providers,

which will support needed care to some of the most vulnerable Medicaid

beneficiaries and frequently will help avoid the need for



        Medicaid is a state/federal partnership that provides health

insurance to certain low-income individuals such as pregnant women, poor

children, the aged, blind and disabled. While the federal government pays at

least half, and sometimes more, of the cost of the program, states are

largely responsible for administering Medicaid. For instance, operating

within broad federal guidelines, states set their own eligibility rules,

determine additions to the basic benefit package and set the rate of payment

for services.  Currently, about 41 million Americans depend on the Medicaid

program for access to health care services.


        The Bush administration has made a commitment to states to give them

more power in determining the nature of their programs by granting waivers

from federal rules.  These waivers allow states to experiment with new

health care delivery systems such a managed care. Waivers also allow states

to offer care to uninsured people who otherwise would not be eligible for

the program.


        "Approving these waivers today is just another step toward our goal

of letting states do what is best to get needed health care to their

citizens," Secretary Thompson said.



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