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Senate Prez Andy Gardiner sends letters to state and feds on Medicaid expansion

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Senate President Andy Gardiner on Monday sent letters to federal and state officials regarding Florida’s effort to win approval of a revamped hospital funding formula. The uncertainty over the loss of more than $1 billion in federal aid has resulted in a budget standoff between the House and Senate.

The Agency for Health Care Administration earlier this month asked federal officials to approve the state’s application for a new round of federal aid for the Low Income Pool. Part of that process requires the state to take public comment and Gardiner decided to weigh in.

Gardiner sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that asked the federal officials to quickly render some sort of decision regarding the state’s LIP funding request.

“We understand no firm decisions will be made until after a thorough review of the application submitted by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). However, if you are able to elaborate on your initial guidance now that a formal application has been submitted, that information may help us more accurately assess the fiscal and economic landscape for the state’s budget,’’ Gardiner wrote to CMS acting director Vikki Wachino.

CMS officials have already made it clear they are unlikely to approve a new LIP funding model unless Florida expands Medicaid coverage to roughly 800,000 residents. But House Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott have been opposed to expansion.

Gardiner in his letter to Gov. Rick Scott‘s Administration noted the position of CMS and called on state officials to amend their request to the federal government.

“We are concerned that with no suggestion of expanded coverage, such as the one recommended by the Florida Senate, the state may not be successful in gaining authority to spend $2.2 billion in LIP payments. Without additional coverage, your LIP model may not be construed as a first step in a transition plan,’’ wrote Gardiner to Deputy Secretary for Medicaid Justin Senior. “As you know, the Legislature is responsible for constructing a balanced budget that meets Floridians’ need for education, public safety, environmental protection, and other important governmental functions, as well as health care. Failure to use available federal resources for expanding coverage will create negative fiscal and economic consequences for the state that are simply unnecessary.”

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