New Florida law will shrink Medicaid waiting list


  • Photo via Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital/Facebook
Nearly 60,000 poor, disabled and elderly residents are on a waiting list for placement in Florida’s Medicaid managed long-term care program. But the number of people on the list will be drastically reduced in the coming months.

The Legislature this year passed a law to ensure that the list only includes the names of residents who are most at risk of nursing-home placement and that people with “low priority” scores will not go on the list. Of the 59,259 people on the list, only about 1,562 are considered in the high-risk category, according to Rebecca Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

Meanwhile, the Agency for Health Care Administration on Thursday held a workshop to discuss changes the state will need to make to rules to comply with the new law but did not make a draft proposal available before the meeting.

Devona Pickle, the agency’s administrator for managed care policy and contract development who chaired the meeting, said she hopes to have a draft proposal available for public review before the state schedules a hearing on the changes. Pickle said it generally takes the state about nine months to implement new rules.

Miriam Harmatz, executive director of the Florida Health Justice Project, noted the law does not include a definition of “low priority” scores and asked whether a definition would be included in the new rule.

“It would be our intention to define it in the rule,” Pickle said. Harmatz also inquired about written notifications that the state would send to people with low priority scores and whether the notices would advise residents that they could challenge the scores. Harmatz said her organization would like to see the rule address those issues. “So noted,” Pickle said.

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.