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Rick Scott, feds agree to $1.5B commitment for low income pool in Florida

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On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D. as well as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, and Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Justin Senior announced the federal government’s commitment to continuing funding for the Low Income Pool (LIP) in Florida.

The amount will be over $1.5 billion annually, nearly a billion dollars more than what the Barack Obama administration provided to Florida.

The LIP program is a federal matching program that provides federal funds to Florida hospitals to cover costs for the state’s most vulnerable patients. State officials and the Donald Trump administration have had ongoing discussions regarding the LIP funding since early this year.

In a statement, Scott said: “Working with the Trump Administration to secure a commitment of $1.5 billion in LIP funding for our state will truly improve the quality and access to health care for our most vulnerable populations. I appreciate their quick turnaround and commitment to working with Florida to provide additional flexibility for how these funds can be used more efficiently, including allowing money to follow each patient. This will provide better health care for the individuals intended to be served with this funding.

“It is great to have a partner in Washington who is willing to work with us to help our state. Florida was on the front-line of fighting against federal overreach under President Obama and it is refreshing to now have a federal government that treats us fairly and does not attempt to coerce us into expanding Medicaid.”

Price added: “From day one, we have been committed to working with our state partners to ensure they have the flexibility they need to make decisions that best reflect the unique needs of their populations. Today’s announcement reflects that commitment on the part of the Trump Administration. We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Scott as well as governors across the country to make sure Americans have access to quality health care.”

Verma said: “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is working toward a new era of state flexibility and leadership. For too long states have been sharing in the cost but have not been allowed to have a meaningful role in decision-making. We want to provide states the flexibility to make health care decisions that best meet their citizens’ unique needs, and support states covering access to health care services.”

And Senior concluded: “The $1.5 billion in LIP funding that the Trump Administration has committed to Florida will help to support Florida’s low-income families. Our Agency has had open and direct conversations with Secretary Price and his staff and we look forward to continuing this partnership. We truly feel like our federal partners are listening to our state and our needs and we know that Florida will have the flexibility we need to run our Medicaid program as efficiently as possible while providing the highest level of care in our state’s history.”

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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