UF granted $18 million to extend services for children of state’s low-income families

Published: September 3rd, 2013

Category: Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s national award-winning Pediatric Integrated Care System, Ped-I-Care, has been granted the Florida Department of Health’s contract to provide health insurance to children of low-income families with special health care needs.

The three-year $18 million contract funds coverage for children in 51 Florida counties, which include five of the eight Children’s Medical Services, or CMS, regions. This expansion more than doubles the previous number of counties served and accounts for a four-fold increase in Ped-I-Care’s geographic presence.

Coverage for the expanded areas will be fully implemented by Nov. 1.

Ped-I-Care is a health plan for special needs children, ages 1 to 19, operating under the University of Florida College of Medicine’s department of pediatrics and contracted by the Department of Health’s CMS Division. Children qualify for the program if they have a special health care need and their family’s income meets the criteria established by the state.

“We are very pleased with the Department of Health’s decision and are excited to continue the strong positive relationship between Ped-I-Care and CMS,” said Dr. Scott Rivkees, pediatrics chair. “The awarding of this contract means that more than 15,000 children in the state of Florida with complicated medical conditions will receive exceptional health care.”

The innovative program, which has been in operation since 2003, receives state and federal funding through Title XXI of the Social Security Act. It has achieved and sustained the highest known insurance plan member satisfaction scores in the country, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal Pediatrics. It was also the sole recipient of the American College of Medical Practice Executives and the Medical Group Management Association’s 2011 Fred Graham award for innovation in improving community health.

According to actuarial calculations, Ped-I-Care’s careful financial management has saved the state of Florida an estimated $61 million over the past nine years.

Nancy Giunta, executive director of Ped-I-Care, believes the expansion contract translates to a big win for everyone involved.

“This is the culmination of months of hard work from our team members. We love what we do and the results that we see in the children and families we serve. Continuing our relationship with CMS in meeting the medical needs of Florida’s most deserving children is both an honor and a privilege, and we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.,” she said.

Families can apply through the Florida KidCare program at floridakidcare.org.

“This program has something for everyone,” said Rivkees. “Ped-I-Care exemplifies the promise of targeted case management and a commitment to quality care. There’s nothing like it in the country, and we believe it to be a practical model for the future of health care.”

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