Negron’s budget will spare nursing homes but cut other programs

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Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said Wednesday he will propose a budget that would not cut Medicaid payment rates for nursing homes and also plans to try to shield hospitals from such cuts, reports the News Service of Florida. But the proposed spending plan, which could be released next week, likely will include deep cuts in other programs. Negron’s comments came a day after the House released an initial health and human-services budget plan that called for a 7 percent cut in hospital rates and a 2.5 percent cut in nursing home rates. “If we fund all the (other) programs, we’re going to have to cut hospitals 7 percent and cut nursing homes,” he said during a meeting of his subcommittee. But Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, said lawmakers should look at closing “egregious tax loopholes” to bring in more revenue instead of only looking at cuts. Negron said the Senate will not set aside as much money as the House for health and human services and reiterated an earlier statement that his proposal will include $850 million in cuts. After the meeting, he said the proposal likely will include trimming funding for the Medically Needy program, which serves people with debilitating illnesses who do not qualify for Medicaid. Negron said he likes a proposal by Gov. Rick Scott that would continue to pay for hospital care, physician services and prescription drugs for Medically Needy patients but would eliminate funding for a wide range of other services. Scott’s Medically Needy proposal would save $48.5 million, according to budget documents. The House proposal would not cut the Medically Needy program. Negron also has indicated his proposal could include cuts in programs such as substance-abuse treatment for adults.

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