Florida hospitals lost another $101 million in Medicaid reimbursement funding this week, as Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation from a special session that trimmed billions in spending from programs across the state in order to balance the budget.
The midyear cuts are effective March 1. That means Medicaid rates have dropped a total of 10% since 2007-08, including the latest cuts and a $150 million reduction that was approved during the regular legislative session last summer for the current budget year.
Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben called the cuts a hidden tax on healthcare providers, insurers and patients who will have to find a way to pay for rising levels of Medicaid care using $251 million less in public funding. Its basically balancing a part of the state budget on the backs of the people who seek care in hospitals. Thats unfortunately what the state has done, Rueben said. As long as people continue to get services, (state lawmakers) dont see that theyve done damage.
The association favors passage of a $1-per-pack increase on cigarette sales in Florida as a recurring source of revenue for Medicaid programs, particularly two programs that serve about 45,000 low-income patients with chronic illnesses and elderly and disabled residents who need assistance with Medicaid co-payments and deductibles. -- Joe Carlson