VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Major changes to the Florida Medicaid system are forcing patients to scramble to find new doctors.
Volusia County is the first in our area slated to roll out the new program on May 1.
It's prompting the Health Department to end its prenatal program.
Mykaela Blades first saw Dr. Hussain Rawji at the Volusia County Health Department when she was 16 years old.
He just saw her through her third pregnancy, the birth of her son, just six weeks ago.
Now, because of changes to Medicaid in the state passed by the Florida Legislature, Blades has to pick a new plan through one of four private insurance companies and she won't be seeing Rawji should there be a fourth baby.
"It's disappointing," said Blades. "I've really enjoyed being with Dr. Rawji, and the nurses here are incredible."
Because of changes to Medicaid, the Health Department has decided to end its prenatal services entirely, saying those services are no longer cost effective.
The changes will impact nearly 1,500 women in the county where Medicaid pays for about half of the babies born.
"There are lots of changes, lots of uncertainty and that causes a lot of anxiety," said Rawji.
For women who are currently pregnant, Medicaid will still cover services with patients' current doctors until six weeks after delivery.
Rawji said he plans to make sure all of his patients' babies are delivered before he transitions them to a new provider.
"They're going to have a place. We're not going to leave a single patient without care, after all we are the county health department," said Rawji.
Health Department officials expect that some workers will be put out of their jobs when the prenatal care ends.
Medicaid patients in Volusia County have until Thursday to pick a new insurance carrier if they want some say in which doctors they will see, otherwise doctors will be selected for them.
Not all counties are handling the Medicaid changes the same.
Seminole, Orange, Osceola and Brevard counties will roll out their changes Aug. 1.
Officials with the Brevard County Health Department said its nearly 2,000 Medicaid patients will have to pick one of six new insurance carriers, but won't see changes to their doctors or services.
The county will get less money through the new HMO plan, but officials said they will be able to absorb the costs.
Orange and Seminole counties health departments are still working out details, they said.
The departments might have to charge patients more for some services, or patients may have to transfer care.
The state health care administrators said Medicaid patients should get four letters in the mail explaining the changes and the deadlines to pick new plans.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando told Channel 9's Kendra Oestreich that they will be able to help absorb some of the new patients caught up in the shuffle.