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House, Senate call special session and it’s wide open on health care, budget

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Nine days after announcing the dates the Florida Legislature issued the proclamation for the special session.

The call is wide open, including Medicaid expansion, elimination of certificate of need law, direct primary care, state group health insurance changes and the budget and conforming bills and tax relief. As previously announced the session will run from June 1-20.

“At this time, budget allocations have not been agreed to by the President and the Speaker, but will be reached before the beginning of Special Session on June 1, 2015,” the proclamation reads.

The 2015 legislative session came to an end without the one must pass bill: the General Appropriations Act, or the budget. Lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement on healthcare access and the federal government would not provide Florida with any insight on whether it would approve the $2.2 billion Low Income Pool program beyond June 30.

LIP is made possible by a waiver that requires federal approval. Florida has submitted a waiver amendment and is waiting to hear back from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as to how much it can expect to get.

Gov. Rick Scott sued the government in federal court over LIP negotiations.

It is not clear what has changed between the end of  April when the lawmakers unexpectedly left Tallahassee and now.

Meanwhile the Florida Hospital Association released a statement saying it appreciates the session will  include a plan to “develop a sustainable approach to health care that fully meets the needs of our patients, those who are fortunate enough to have health insurance and those who are not.”

FHA President Bruce Rueben said, “We look forward to working with the House and Senate to find solutions that include coverage and a replacement for the Low Income Pool. Both are essential to ensure low-income, working Floridians have access to preventative care and critical services.”

A bipartisan business coalition led by Associated Industries of Florida called A Healthy Florida Works issued a release saying, “we appreciate the progress being made by the Florida House and Senate and believe that by working together this special session the Florida Legislature can cut taxes, create jobs, boost our economy, and allow more working Floridians to purchase private health care coverage.”

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