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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott's Medicaid overhaul benefits HCA hospitals

25

January

In today's paper, reporter Richard Martin and I write about Gov. Rick Scott's controversial plan to drastically reduce the amount the state pays to hospitals for Medicaid. Although the plan's goal is to rein in Medicaid and free up dollars for education, some for-profit hospitals, including those owned by a company Scott used to work for, would get more state funding.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's plan to cut about $2 billion in public funding to hospitals that care for the poor is devastating and even ridiculous, say hospital leaders who predict patient care will suffer if it is enacted.
Scott's fellow Republicans in the Legislature say they don't like his plan, either. But they admit that the hospitals — which took a considerable hit last year — will face another swipe of the ax.

Scott wants to cut Medicaid spending by nearly 10 percent this year to free up funds for education. He says health spending is a fair target because it has grown far more rapidly than other government spending.

"We need to fund education; it's the right thing to do," he said last week. "And Medicaid has been growing. And so you've got to change how you do things."

But because most Medicaid dollars come from the federal government, the move would free up about $422 million in state tax dollars for education. The rest would be federal matching funds that Florida would lose, said Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association.

What's more, he and others say, Scott has structured the cuts in a way that hits hardest at "safety net'' hospitals that provide the most care for poor people. Yet a few for-profit hospitals — including some owned by Scott's former employer Hospital Corporation of America — would actually get more tax funds under his plan.

Tampa General Hospital and All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg would each face estimated cuts of more than $70 million, according to the Florida Hospital Association. But three Pinellas HCA hospitals — Largo Medical Center, St. Petersburg General and Northside — would each get a few million more.

"I can't make any sense of that," said Ron Hytoff, president and CEO of Tampa General.

Scott said he was unaware that his new rate system benefited for-profit hospitals.

"I don't know if that's true. I have not seen those numbers," he said Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 1:49pm]

    

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