NAPLES — A Medicaid managed-care provider with its roots in Collier County has added six more communities, including Lee County, to its roster of contracts with the state.
Integral Quality Care, a nonprofit started by the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida in 2010, now has contracts with 13 of the 67 Florida counties to be a managed-care entity for Medicaid recipients. Collier was one of the early counties.
Besides Lee as one of the latest communities, the other five recent additions are Sarasota, Hendry, Hardee, DeSoto and Citrus counties.
Leadership for Integral had hoped to be a little further along than where it is now with the number of counties it has secured state contracts for, but there are regulations and a review process with the state Agency for Healthcare Administration, said Richard Akin, chairman of Integral's board of directors.
Although Integral's administrative offices are in Tampa, Akin is chief executive officer of the Healthcare Network, formerly Collier Health Services, which launched the managed-care entity.
With the arrival of 2013, the state has put out invitations to bid on others and Integral does intend to expand, Akin said. Bids are due March 15.
Akin said having 13 counties under state contract may not give Integral an upper hand to secure more contracts, but the nonprofit has performed well with managing costs and has repaid loans.
"I think we are very well-positioned," he said, referring to gaining more contracts this year.
Florida's Medicaid program, which costs $21 billion and covers 2.2 million low-income residents, is about a third of the state's budget. Gov. Rick Scott aims to expand a managed-care pilot project statewide to help control costs.
Intregral Quality also is looking at how it could play a role with the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, where Medicaid is expected to be expanded to cover more people with the help of federal dollars.
Akin said he's not sure how it will all play out in the state and at the federal level.
"We think it makes a lot of sense," he said. "But we don't know the rules of the road."
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 20 percent of the state's population, or 3.8 million residents, are uninsured.