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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Medicaid bill fight could cost Florida counties



Florida counties stand to lose nearly $300 million in state revenue over the next few years, a punishment of sorts for what the state says are unpaid Medicaid bills.

But counties say much of what the state categorizes as delinquent bills are actually erroneous charges created by a faulty state billing system, and that the state's decision to collect is masking a ploy to shift additional costs to local governments.

Under the controversial proposal, the state would withhold revenue sharing dollars from counties equal to a portion of the delinquent bills as well as any future payments counties owe under the Medicaid program. Currently, counties are allowed to dispute the amounts they owe and pay what they think is fair.

Miami-Dade could lose an estimated $31 million in revenue sharing in the upcoming fiscal year with the new system and Pinellas could see an $8.6 million decrease, according to the Association of Counties.

Calling the new process an "unfair, unfunded mandate," Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala noted that the policy shift comes on top of a proposal to require counties to pay a bigger share of overall Medicaid costs.

"(The state doesn't) want to raise taxes so it will force local governments to raise taxes," she said.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8:14pm]


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