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Rick Scott doesn’t offer much on Low Income Pool letter from feds

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn’t saying what his next move will be.

Scott on Thursday would not say whether he would drop his lawsuit against the federal government now that the Florida has been given tentative approval that the Low Income Pool program will exist over for the next two years.

“It’s not even official. It’s not even done yet,” Scott said, when asked if the news from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was enough to get him to drop  the suit he filed in federal court.

As the battle over hospital spending and the state budget has heated up, Scott has been increasingly aggressive, going so far at one point to compare the administration of President Barack Obama to the mafia.

But the feds advised Florida in a letter on Thursday that it tentatively could receive $1 billion in LIP funds for the 2015-16 budget and $600 million in LIP funds for the 2016-17 budget. Florida is currently authorized for more than $2 billion in LIP funding.

The Republican governor — who has spent much of his political career railing against the Obama administration — sounded cautious when discussing this development.

The governor told reporters  in Perry, Fla., that he had continued to have conversations with the federal government over the Low Income Pool extensions but did not say whether he was expecting to receive the tentative approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that came out on Thursday.

Scott did say, though, that LIP is a federal program and he expected the federal government to continue to fund it.

“When they decided to start a program they should not walk away from the program,” the governor said. “So my expectation is they should continue to fund their program.”

Scott filed a lawsuit in federal court late April seeking declaratory relief that the Obama Administration violated the U.S. Constitution by withholding supplemental Medicaid funding from the state in the form of Low Income Pool dollars.  Scott filed the lawsuit after the Legislature failed to reach accord on the one must-pass bill of the year: the budget.

The impasse was due to the fact the Florida Senate has proposed in its budget to include LIP funding as well as a Medicaid expansion but the House of Representatives didn’t include either stream of Medicaid funding.

Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi sued Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In a press release announcing the lawsuit Scott said “President Obama’s sudden end to the Low Income Pool (LIP) healthcare program to leverage us for Obamacare is illegal and a blatant overreach of executive power.”

The Low Income Pool program is a supplemental Medicaid financing program that is made possible under an 1115 Medicaid waiver. The federal government approved the waiver for a three- year extension last year but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last April that it would not extend the Low Income Pool beyond June 30, 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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