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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Compromise in hospital fight headed to governor



A proposal to restructure the panel that recommends how Medicaid money is distributed is headed to the governor after it unanimously cleared the Senate on Monday.

The bill by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, would revamp the Low-Income Pool Council -- nicknamed the "LIP Council.

The council was created in 2005 to advise the Legislature on the distribution of Medicaid funds.

Currently, the council is made up of representatives from public, private and teaching hospitals.

The bills, which passed the Senate 37-0 with no debate, would bar lobbyists from serving as members of the council, unless that person is a full-time employee of a public entity.

The changes also would add seven members to what is currently a 17-member council. Among them: four appointed by the House Speaker and Senate President, one from the Department of Health and one from a federally qualified health clinic.

A representative picked by the Agency for Health Care Administration would serve as a non-voting chair person.

Last year, the council recommended how the Legislature should dole out roughly $2 million in Medicaid funds. Supporters say the changes are designed to increase transparency and improve how the money is distributed.

Last week, the House passed an identical proposal by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City. And Patronis and Gaetz hugged and shook hands after the vote.

-- Breanne Gilpatrick, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 5:56pm]


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