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.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.