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Florida Faces Challenges as Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services Waiting Lists Persist

Florida Faces Challenges as Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services Waiting Lists Persist


A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) sheds light on concerning trends regarding Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS) waiting lists, covering the period from 2016 to 2023. Across the nation, 38 states, including Florida, are grappling with the challenges of lengthy waiting lists for essential services.

The KFF report underscores that nearly 700,000 individuals are currently on Medicaid waiting lists for HCBS nationwide, enduring an average wait of approximately three years before accessing services. Notably, 72% of these individuals face intellectual and developmental disabilities, presenting a significant challenge to the health care system. The report emphasizes that addressing these waiting lists is further complicated by ongoing workforce shortages, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the report points out that states' ability to cap HCBS waiver enrollment can lead to waiting lists when demand surpasses available slots. Waiting lists reflect a complex interplay of factors, including the services states choose to provide, available resources, and workforce availability. Moreover, the varied management approaches to waiting lists among states make interstate comparisons challenging.

Florida, like many states, is confronting the impact of HCBS waiting lists. Specifically, the iBudget program, designed to provide HCBS to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has an alarming 21,587 people awaiting services. Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), House Health & Human Services Committee Chairman, expressed deep concerns about this figure after a recent legislative committee meeting. He emphasized that addressing the needs of people with disabilities is a top priority for the upcoming legislative session, commencing on January 9, 2024.

In addition to the iBudget program, Florida is contending with over 50,000 individuals on the waiting list for Medicaid long-term care services, underscoring the pervasive nature of the issue within the state.

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