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On-again, off-again LIP talks with federal government on again, says Liz Dudek

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Despite a looming lawsuit — and the meltdown of this year’s legislative session–Florida’s top healthcare official said that the state is talking again with its federal counterparts.

Liz Dudek, the secretary for the Agency for Health Care Administration, told reporters on Tuesday that her agency had a “brief conversation” this week with federal officials. Dudek said the purpose of the call was to let the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services know that the state has held three public hearings in connection with the state’s proposal to renew the Low Income Pool.

“We have started some dialogue about what we do next,’’ said Dudek.

Following Dudek’s interview Gov. Scott’s office issued a press release saying that the governor will meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to discuss the Low Income Pool. In a release Scott said it was his hope that the federal government would reconsider LIP funding and that it was critical for the state to get “information immediately so the Legislature can construct a budget.”

Dudek said that she anticipates that the state will have a formal phone conference with CMS officials either later this week or early next week.

CMS warned the state a year ago that it would not continue LIP in its current form beyond this summer. The looming loss of more than $1 billion in federal money prompted the Florida Senate to push for Medicaid expansion and a revamped LIP model. But House members have remained opposed to the expansion and the impasse has prevented legislators from reaching a deal on a new state budget.

But amid the House and Senate tug-of-war AHCA officials contended that the federal officials shut down negotiations and refused to schedule any new meetings.

The feds then sent a letter to Florida stating that any consideration of a new LIP model would be linked to whether the state expands Medicaid. Scott responded by suing the federal government, saying it was trying to coerce the state into expanding “Obamacare.”

The healthcare stalemate led the House to adjourn this year’s session three and a half days early. While the Senate has offered to hold a special session in June, the two sides have yet to reach an agreement on what to do next.

A key part of that session may depend on whether the federal government gives Florida an estimate of how much LIP money it may still receive this year.

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