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Congressional Republicans send letter to feds: Don’t hold LIP hostage

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Six Republicans in Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the acing director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services April 14, saying that supplemental Medicaid funding should not be held “hostage” for a statewide expansion of Medicaid.

The letter — signed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis,  Curt Clawson,  Richard Nugent,  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and  Ted Yoho — asks that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services come to an agreement “in principle” by mid-April to keep Low Income Pool funding, which helps pay for hospitals, graduate medical education, federally qualified health center and Medicaid HMOs– flowing to the state.

“Time is of the essence,” the letter reads.

Florida is asking that LIP funding be continued at current levels. The state claims that there still would be $1.6 billion in uncompensated health care even if Medicaid were expanded under the federal healthcare law, often called Obamacare, and that an additional $400 million is needed to support medical schools and other healthcare providers.

Acting director of the Department of Health and Human Services Vikki Wachino sent a letter to Deputy Secretary for Medicaid Justin Senior, also on April 14, explaining that Medicaid expansion — not uncompensated care pool such as the Low Income Pool — are a better use of tax payers dollars. Wachino said in the letter she stands committed to working with the state to find a solution.

In order to adjourn the 2015 legislative session on time the budget must be negotiated and agreed to by late April. Unlike other bills the General Appropriations Act must “cool off” for 72 hours before legislators can vote on it. The session is slated to end May 1, which means the budget would need to be on desks by April 28.

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