Representatives of hospitals that provide a lot of charity care in Florida were headed to Washington Monday to urge federal health care officials and members of Congress to give them more money and freedom to spend it.
Tony Carvalho, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, said members hope the Trump administration will prove friendlier than former President Obama, who trimmed Washington’s Low Income Pool financing for charity care from $2.2 billion to $608 million during the past three years.
That harmed “hospitals’ ability to care for all residents, not just those that cannot pay for their care. Now is the time to correct that injustice and ensure that Florida receives its fair share of federal funding to help cover the costs of caring for the poor and uninsured,” Carvalho said in a written statement.
Texas gets 500 percent more than Florida, he said, and California gets 20 times more.
“While we appreciate Gov. Rick Scott recommending the continuation of today’s $608 million in LIP supplemental Medicaid funding in his proposed 2017-18 budget, we urge his office to work with the Trump administration to secure at least $1.6 billion,” he said.
Scott’s proposed state budget would save $581 million by trimming Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals, and $298 million in supplemental money for for-profit hospitals that stint on charity and uncompensated Medicaid care.
They’d also like more freedom in how they spend charity dollars.
“Current LIP parameters for funding care for the poor and uninsured are too restrictive. Federal officials need to remove the allocation straight-jacket strapped on the state so Florida can direct that the precious LIP dollars be used to benefit the greatest number of patients in need,” Carvalho said.
“Federal officials need to remove the allocation straight-jacket strapped on the state so Florida can direct that the precious LIP dollars be used to benefit the greatest number of patients in need,” he said.
“Compounding Florida’s unfair charity care funding deficit is Florida’s precariously low Medicaid reimbursement rates. Today, even before the governor’s proposed $1 billion cut in reimbursements for services to Medicaid enrollees, hospitals are paid much less than the basic cost of providing the care.”
Low reimbursement for charity care forces a “hidden tax” on businesses in the form of higher insurance costs, he said. “Each year, Florida’s hospitals provide more than $3 billion in uncompensated and charity care that those with commercial insurance ultimately pay for.”
The alliance comprises teaching, public, and children’s hospitals that spend heavily on uncompensated and charity care.
Along for the Washington trip were Jonathan Ellen, chairman of the alliance board and CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital; Ed Jimenez, vice chairman and CEO of UF Health Shands Hospital; Carlos Migoya, president and CEO Jackson Health System; and Lindy Kennedy executive vice president and CEO of the alliance.
Executives from Halifax Health, Lee Health, Orlando Health, and Tampa General Hospital also were participating.