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Rick Scott: ‘It took a lawsuit’ to get LIP agreement

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Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday claimed victory after the federal government notified the state of an “agreement in principle” that lays the framework for how Florida can spend $1.6 billion in supplemental Medicaid spending over the next four years.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Vikki Wachino‘s coveted agreement letter for the Low Income Pool came just hours after Scott signed the 2015-16 budget into law, putting to rest the debate over appropriate healthcare funding and how much federal money Florida could expect.

“Our fight for Florida families saw a major victory today with the Obama Administration finally agreeing to continue funding the Low Income Pool program,” Scott said in a release. “It is unfortunate that it took a lawsuit against the Obama Administration for them to continue this funding apart from Florida’s decision not to expand Obamacare.”

The federal government advised Florida in April 2014 that it would not continue the Low Income Pool beyond this summer. The governor used the $2 billion in healthcare funding in his budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2016.

Scott sued the federal government in the spring over its refusal to continue the program at the $2 billion spending level and accused the government of coercing the state into expanding Medicaid access under the federal healthcare law, commonly called Obamacare.

At press time the governor had not withdrawn the suit, according to court filings.

Florida isn’t the only one claiming victory, though. The federal government says the agreement adheres to the principles it outlined to Florida in April:

  • uncompensated care pool funding should not pay for costs that would be covered in a Medicaid expansion;
  • Medicaid payments should support services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries and low-income uninsured individuals;
  • provider payment should promote provider participation and access, and should support plans in managing and coordinating care.

The state also added $400 million in recurring general revenue to hospital rates, which the federal government had flagged as being low.

See the full letter addressed to Scott here.

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