Florida House should add miraculous LIP funding to its budget numbers

in Peter by

The $4-billion gap between the House and Senate budget plans got a lot smaller this week, courtesy of Gov. Rick Scott’s Low Income Pool (LIP) victory. Scott took a trip to Washington and returned home with $1.5 billion in new health care funding for Floridians.

After refusing the prior administration’s mandate that LIP funds would only flow if Florida expanded Medicaid, Scott and Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) leadership secured a commitment from the Donald Trump administration to finance Florida’s LIP program, which reimburses hospitals for providing charity health care.

Scott has been saying his close relationship with the Trump administration would be good for Florida, and it looks like he delivered.

The cost of Medicaid services is one of the things breaking the bank for Florida, and this renewed pot of money will help the Florida Legislature balance a budget that was struggling under the costs of indigent care.

There’s no question Scott and AHCA deserve credit for working this deal out through stealth negotiations with HHS Secretary Tom Price. Now it’s up to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is not exactly on the best of terms with the Governor, to accept the LIP money as a gift from above and apply it to its intended purpose.

This week the Senate adopted a 2017-18 budget proposal that includes $608 million in LIP funding, even though the deal with the feds hadn’t been announced yet. Call it an act of faith. Corcoran has refused to put any LIP funding into the House budget and has even chastised the Senate for allocating money that didn’t yet exist.

Well, now the money does exist and it is time for the House to step up and take action. Corcoran should announce that the House will add LIP funding to its budget immediately.

Let’s commit to not playing political games with this money. Evenly distribute the LIP funding throughout the state without favoring one region over another, or one type of hospital over another.

The dollar should follow the patient.

When the Senate started crafting a budget that depended on LIP funding, it looked like they were drawing to an inside straight. But sometimes even long shots pay off, and it helps when the governor is friends with the dealer.

It’s time for both sides to take the money with a hearty “thank you,” use it properly and move on to other issues.

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.