Report: Florida may get nearly $2 Billion in new Medicaid funding
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12/15/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday

According to a new report, Florida could receive $1.8 billion in new Medicaid funds from the federal government if the economic stimulus bill is approved by Congress early next year.

The health care advocacy group Families USA predicts such an increase will bring 34,000 new jobs to the state.

Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA. He listed the average breakdown between Washington and the states when it comes to Medicaid funding, and how the new legislation will bring more money from the federal government.

If the stimulus bill is approved, the federal government will temporarily pay for a greater proportion of Medicaid costs, Pollack said. Now, the federal government pays about 56 percent of Medicaid costs, while state government covers the rest, Pollack said.
Currently, Florida’s budget deficit is more than $2 billion and is expected to grow next year. Everything is on the table for further cuts, including Medicaid.

According to published reports, lawmakers are planning to cut the state’s Home and Community Based Waiver program for the developmentally disabled.

Pollack said Florida is joined by many other states in reducing enrollment in their programs.

"Eight states are cutting enrollment or cutting eligibility standards for participation in the programs," he said. "And with each passing week, we're learning of additional states that are contemplating cutting back their enrollment or cutting back their eligibility standards."

Also in the new report, Florida is listed as having already reduced payments to Medicaid providers, such as doctors and hospitals, with more cuts to follow. Pollack said this means more people will have trouble finding providers willing to offer services under Medicaid.

But there could be help on the way. Legislation sponsored by Sens. Harry Reid, D -Nev., and Robert Byrd, D - W. Va., to increase Medicaid funding would give Florida more funding next year. The report, called, called “A Painful Recession: States Cut Health Safety Net Programs” estimates the federal government will increase its share by $40 billion.

The proposed increase in Medicaid funding from the government is expected to be part of the stimulus plan being worked on now by Congress and expected to be ready for President-elect Barack Obama to sign immediately after he is inaugurated.

The report is accessible at familiesusa.org

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