Gov. Rick Scott said on Wednesday that he is prepared to walk away from additional Medicaid dollars and prepare a base budget if the state doesn’t get approval from the federal government on the Low Income Pool soon.
Scott addressed the media after meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. Scott went to Washington to request the federal government to approve the state’s amendment to its existing 1115 waiver that allows the state to operate a mandatory Medicaid managed-care program.
The Low Income Pool — a $2 billion pot of supplemental Medicaid funds composed mostly of county and federal dollars — is part of the 1115 waiver. The federal government agreed to extend the waiver last year through June 30, 2015.
The Legislature has been unable to craft a budget with the uncertainty over the Low Income Pool dollars.
“If we don’t get an answer from (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) in the next few weeks, their inaction is the same as “no” and we will prepare to go into a special session to do a base budget that keeps government running,” a press release from the Governor’s Office reads. “I told her that we need federal action right now. The low-income families in our state cannot wait on the federal government any longer.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson criticized the governor for his handling of the situation. Scott has sued Burwell in court for refusing to extend the LIP dollars to the state, arguing that the federal government is trying to “coerce” Florida into a Medicaid expansion.
“Florida is not a corporation, it’s a community and Governor Scott should govern accordingly,” Nelson said in a release. “Right now he’s showing a callous disregard for the needs of many of his fellow Floridians.”