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Steve Crisafulli says House can now pass budget, after feds change mind on LIP

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Speaker Steve Crisafulli says the Florida House can start passing a budget in June, now that the state could receive disputed federal healthcare funds this year.

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) indicating they will provide Low-Income Pool (LIP) funding for the next two fiscal years.

However, the letter warned state officials to expect a huge drop in the federal hospital payment program at the heart of a political impasse over the new state budget.

Florida must also reform its hospital payment system in the future.

Until then, the state can apply for about $1 billion in government funding for LIP funding, less than half last year’s payment, a number that will drop every year afterward.

Although the CMS letter said the agency has not made “a final determination on LIP,” it did suggest funds would come from both federal and state money. They also hinted at more LIP money – although severely reduced — next year.

Crisafulli issued a statement Friday morning praising the development from Washington.

“The Legislative and Executive branches are analyzing the impact that this may have on healthcare provider funding,” the Merritt Island Republican said.

He also expressed gratitude to Gov. Rick Scott for his “strong leadership securing continued LIP funding for our state.”

Crisafulli added that his House members had always maintained they could “craft a responsible budget” while Scott negotiated with over the future of LIP, while insisting the money not be tied to Medicaid expansion.

“During this year’s regular legislative session, the House made earnest efforts to negotiate a balanced budget by May 1 that set aside state funds as a contingency for LIP, anticipating CMS’ decision would not fund LIP at current levels.

“I appreciate CMS providing this information in a timely manner for Special Session and for separating LIP funding from Medicaid expansion,” Crisafulli said. “While we are still evaluating the effect of the new LIP funding level, this progress will greatly help the House and Senate finalize allocations and pass a balanced budget that meets the needs of Floridians during the upcoming Special Session in June.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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