Senate Medicaid bill headed to floor

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With negotiations looming with the House, the Senate Budget Committee approved a massive Medicaid overhaul Thursday that would try to slam the brakes on health-care spending, reports Jim Saunders of Health News Florida.

The bill includes a controversial proposal that would cap the amount of money the state spends each year on Medicaid and force mid-year cuts if costs go up. The proposal could be a key issue as lawmakers try to reach agreement in the coming weeks on a final Medicaid plan.

Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, has made the cap a priority and says it would offer “budget predictability.” In recent years, the state has faced steadily increasing costs as the bad economy has pushed more people into Medicaid.

“We as a legislature will decide, ‘This is how much we’re going to spend on Medicaid,’ ” Negron said before the Senate Budget Committee voted 17-4 to approve the overhaul bill and send it to the full Senate.

But critics of the Senate bill fear the cap could force dramatic cuts in services. Karen Woodall, a lobbyist for the left-leaning Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, told the committee that such a cap could have forced about $1.6 billion in spending cuts this year. Continue reading Jim Saunders’ story here.

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