All Children’s Hospital spared worst of Legislature’s cuts

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Although doctors and hospitals treating Florida’s poorest patients face significant pay cuts in the state’s nearly final budget, All Children’s Hospital (ACH) in St. Petersburg will be spared the worst of the Legislature’s cuts.

According to Amy Maguire, a lobbyist for ACH, the hospital’s current Medicaid reimbursement rate will not be reduced as it is at other hospitals throughout the state.

Maguire and several other close to the issue say that much of the credit for protecting All Children’s belongs to Reps. Will Weatherford and Jeff Brandes.

Legislators will vote by Friday on a $70 billion budget that includes $304 million less to reimburse hospitals. A Florida Hospital Association analysis released Wednesday projects the state’s hospitals will receive $642.8 million less for treating poor children, pregnant women and disabled adults in 2013.

This second consecutive year of Medicaid cuts will force hospitals to quickly decide what services to reduce or eliminate, said Kimberly Guy, chief operating officer at St. Joseph’s hospitals for women and children, where the cuts could total $7.3 million.

Statewide, 3 million poor and disabled Floridians receive Medicaid, about half of whom are children. The state is responsible for administering the program supported by a combination of federal, state and local money.

Medicaid is a costly and growing program, and Florida law requires legislators to pass a balanced budget. That situation and an expected $2 billion drop in tax revenue make cuts inevitable, Gov. Rick Scott said.

“We have to deal with the fact that Medicaid is growing so fast,” Scott said Tuesday in Tallahassee.

The proposed budget also is void of $438 million in federal Medicaid money to reimburse physicians. Scott has declined that money and millions more as part of his legal challenge to the national Affordable Care Act.

Many in the GOP-led Legislature support the governor’s decision.

“It’s Affordable Care Act dollars, and we’re not taking them,” House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson told the News Service of Florida.

Material from the Tampa Tribune was used in this post.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.