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Senate health care plan emerging as LIP negotiations heat up

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Work requirements, co-payments, and commercial insurance or managed care companies are likely to be featured in a health plan that will emerge from the Senate next week as the chamber begins to discuss a health care plan the state could use if a $2 billion Medicaid financing is cut off by the federal government.

Senate Health Policy Committee Chairman Aaron Bean said he plans to make available at the committee’s meeting next week a draft plan with a conservative approach to provide health care to poor and uninsured Floridians. Bean said  he draft bill will feature recommendations from plans being floated by Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber to bills the Senate considered three years ago.

“We don’t have a blue print right now of any one,” he said of the emerging plan, “but we are trying to pull out the best of anything.”

Beans’ announcement followed the release of a letter Gov. Rick Scott sent to Barack Obama saying he would not use any state dollars to “backfill” the $2 billion Low Income Pool program. The LIP is $2 billion in mostly federal and local dollars spent mostly on Florida hospitals though they also are used for federally qualified health centers and to train doctors.

Scott built the money into his proposed budget for fiscal year 2015-16 even though the federal government told Florida last year that the program would expire June 30. In his letter, Scott argued that supplemental Medicaid funding and Medicaid expansion as envisioned under the federal health care law are mutually exclusive.

Scott’s letter ratcheted up the discussion in the Capitol about how Florida finances its Medicaid program and whether the state should expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Florida has resisted implementing optional Obamacare provisions–such as a Medicaid expansion  or state insurance exchanges.

Bean said in an “ideal world” the Legislature would not be in this position but that the state needs to have “options if negotiations don’t go our way.”

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