The CMS will not renew a Medicaid waiver in Florida expiring in June that provides more than $1 billion a year to help the state's hospitals cover uncompensated-care costs for low-income and uninsured patients. The move may put additional pressure on state Republican leaders to consider expanding Medicaid.
Since 2005, Florida has had a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver that establishes a low-income funding pool to aid the state's hospitals. The state has received between $1 billion and $2 billion annually to support its safety net providers.
“CMS will not extend Florida's Low Income Pool in its current form,” a CMS spokeswoman said. “(We) will work with the state to develop payment approaches for Florida's Medicaid beneficiaries to ensure adequacy, equity, accountability and sustainability for Florida's Medicaid funding.”
Hospitals around the state are waiting to see what alternative funding will be negotiated by the CMS and the state to replace the low-income pool. “It would have a devastating impact if it just went away and there was nothing else,” said Bruce Rueben, CEO of the Florida Hospital Association.
Losing the funds would hurt hospitals that have the highest proportion of Medicaid and uninsured cases, and could lead to reductions in services and staff at those hospitals, though it's unclear if it would lead to any hospital closures, Rueben said.