MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN POLK COUNTY, FLA., IN TAMPA BAY AREA
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by Universal Health Care Inc. to expand managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in Polk County , Fla., in the Tampa Bay area.
Universal Health Care, based in St. Petersburg, Fla. , will begin serving beneficiaries on April 1 in Polk County, including the cities of Lakeland and Winter Haven. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment for Medicare Advantage, formerly known as Medicare+Choice. About 100,000 beneficiaries live in Polk County.
"We are pleased Universal Health Care decided to expand this health plan to include more beneficiaries in Florida ,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Under the Medicare reform law signed by President Bush, Medicare will provide all seniors - no matter where they live - with better health insurance options, including prescription drug coverage and preventive care. The law is achieving the President's goals of strengthening and modernizing Medicare.”
Universal Health Care began serving Medicare beneficiaries in 2003 in the Florida counties of Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota, including the city of Sarasota . In September 2004, the company expanded into Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon and Wakulla counties in the Tallahassee area.
The plan gives beneficiaries another health care option to select. The Medicare Advantage plans currently operating in Polk County are Citrus Health Care Inc., Humana Insurance Co., LifeMasters Supported Self-Care Inc., Quality Health Plans Inc., United Healthcare of Florida Inc. (HMO), United Healthcare of Florida (PPO) and Well Care HMO Inc.
“We want to make sure all Medicare beneficiaries, whether in a Medicare Advantage plan or fee-for-service, are receiving the highest quality health care," said CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. "We are doing more to guarantee that beneficiaries understand the Medicare coverage options available to them. We also are reminding beneficiaries of the need to work closely with the doctors and other health care providers that give them medical care."
Since Dec. 8, 2003, when President Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act into law, CMS has approved 45 new contracts with Medicare health plans and 66 service area expansions. There are currently 139 applications pending for new contracts and 32 service area expansions pending.
Medicare Advantage HMOs and fee-for-service plans are available where private companies choose to offer them. Currently, about 4.6 million Medicare beneficiaries -- out of a total of about 40 million aged and disabled Americans – have enrolled in Medicare HMOs. Original fee-for-service Medicare, currently chosen by more than 35 million beneficiaries, is available to all beneficiaries.
Medicare has a far-reaching consumer information program that includes a national toll-free phone number -- 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY/TDD, at 877-486-2048 -- an Internet site -- www.medicare.gov -- and a coalition of more than 200 national and local organizations to provide seniors more information.