MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN THREE FLORIDA COUNTIES
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by WellCare Health Plan Inc. to expand managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in Duval, Manatee and Polk counties in Florida.
WellCare Health Plan, based in Tampa, Fla., will begin serving beneficiaries on April 1 in these counties including the cities of Jacksonville in Duval County, Bradenton in Manatee County , and Lakeland and Winter Haven in Polk County . Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment for Medicare Advantage, formerly known as Medicare+Choice. About 104,000 beneficiaries live in Duval County, 100,000 in Polk County and 59,000 in Manatee County, a total of about 263,000 beneficiaries.
The company began serving Medicare beneficiaries in 2000 in 11 counties on Florida ’s east and west coasts including the cities of Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
"We are pleased WellCare Health Plan 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.”
WellCare Health Plan, which does business as WellCare, gives beneficiaries in the three counties another health care option to select. The other Medicare Advantage plan currently operating in Duval County is Humana Medical Plan. Two Medicare Advantage plans operating in both Manatee and Polk counties are United Healthcare of Florida Inc. and Humana Insurance Co. Universal Health Care Inc. also operates a Medicare Advantage plan in Manatee County. Citrus Health Care Inc. and Quality Health Plans Inc. currently operate Medicare Advantage plans in Polk County.
“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.