Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday said the state of Florida did not cut off negotiations with the federal government and put blame for the Medicaid meltdown on the federal government, instead.
Scott told a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon that negotiators with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Medicaid Deputy Director Justin Senior that they wouldn’t be able to meet with him for a few weeks and, “Don’t call us, basically, we’ll call you.”
Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek issued a press release last week announcing that the federal government had cut off negotiations with the state and that the future of the Low Income Pool — a $2 billion pot of supplemental Medicaid funds used to offset the costs of uncompensated care and the uninsured — had been jeopardized.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services followed up by issuing its own release saying that the federal government did not cut off negotiations and was willing to continue negotiations.
Scott has avoided directly answering whether he supports a Medicaid expansion as outlined in the federal healthcare law, often called Obamacare, or whether he supports the Senate proposal to expand Medicaid called FHIX. He continued that trend at his press availability on Wednesday.
“Everything I can see, they are walking away from a program that helps low-income families, helps our medical schools, helps our Department of Health and there’s a few other things. There’s no conversations they are willing to have right now with the state of Florida. I’m extremely disappointed that the federal government would walk away from this,” Scott said of LIP.
“It’s very difficult to trust this same government to do anything else with them because of their action on the program and it’s a small program compared to other things they want to accomplish.”
The Senate proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2015-16 has LIP funding as well as a Medicaid expansion included in the base. The House budget does not include either of those programs, resulting in a $4 billion-plus difference in the spending plans.
Scott downplayed the notion that the LIP program or Medicaid expansion could derail his legislative priorities, including a $673 million tax package and a solid public education system.
“I believe that when we finish this session, we’ll have the highest funding for K-12 education, we’ll have $673 million in tax cuts and our colleges will be more affordable,” Scott said.