Sunday, May 20, 2018

Fla. reduces counties' Medicaid bills by $171.4M

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's counties may reconsider a lawsuit over disputed Medicaid fees because the state has slashed $171.4 million from their bills, a spokeswoman for their statewide association said Wednesday.

That cut the disputed amount by more than half — from $316 million to $146.4 million.

Florida Association of Counties spokeswoman Cragin Mosteller called the reduction "exceptional." She said the organization is still talking with its members about its next move but is "taking everything under consideration." That includes the possibility of dropping the lawsuit that's pending in a Tallahassee court.

Mosteller also praised Gov. Rick Scott for keeping his promise to ensure counties are dunned only for what they actually owe.

Scott made that pledge in March when he signed a law withholding state revenue sharing from counties that fail to pay disputed charges going back several years.

The association and 47 individual counties — out of Florida's 67 — then sued in state Circuit Court challenging the new law. No hearing has yet been set in the case.

Counties are billed for a portion of the services their residents receive from the state-federal health care program for low-income and disabled patients.

The lawsuit alleges the counties are being overcharged because of mistakes made by the state's electronic billing system. It cites such examples as Alachua County being billed for applications that failed to list a billing code because it's first on the alphabetical list of counties being billed for nonresidents. Also cited was Escambia County getting bills for residents of neighboring Escambia County, Ala.

Lawmakers who supported the law, which passed on largely partisan votes in the Republican-controlled Legislature, contend the counties are simply refusing to pay their fair share because their budgets are pinched in tough economic times.

The association on Friday sent its members a memo urging them to "share your appreciation to" Scott, noting the governor and other state officials have spent the past three months reviewing the backlog of county Medicaid bills.

Agency for Health Care Administration deputy director Karen Zeiler visited all 67 counties and recommended an administrative rule, which the association says will provide a fair way to implement the law. A hearing on the proposal is set for July 26.

The agency oversees Florida's Medicaid program and is a defendant in the lawsuit.

It argues in part that the law violates the Florida Constitution because it did not pass by a two-thirds majority in each legislative chamber as required for "unfunded mandates" and revenue sharing reductions. The legislation met the supermajority requirement in the House but fell four votes short in the Senate.

Comments
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Janet Jackson, Ariana Grande, BTS set for Billboard Awards

Janet Jackson, Ariana Grande, BTS set for Billboard Awards

After celebrating her 52nd birthday and the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking "janet."
Updated: 1 hour ago
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — Hardworking. Funny. Loving. Grieving family and friends recalled the endearing qualities of some of the victims of Friday’s mass shooting at a Texas high school, as authorities on Saturday released the names of the 10 killed. Eight ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Spanish boats pick up 162 migrants crossing Mediterranean

Spain's maritime rescue service says it picked up 162 migrants attempting to make the perilous trip across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe this weekend
Updated: 1 hour ago
Eels break records in Maine, where they sell for big money

Eels break records in Maine, where they sell for big money

America's only significant state fishery for baby eels has blown past records for value as high demand from overseas aquaculture companies is driving prices to new heights
Updated: 1 hour ago

Spanish police arrest 12 from alleged hash smuggling ring

Spanish authorities say they have broken up an alleged drug ring that smuggled hashish from Morocco to Europe
Updated: 1 hour ago

Report: Florida college inflated female athlete numbers

A Florida university gave federal authorities false numbers on how many female athletes were participating in the school's sports programs
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Latest: 1st funeral set for Texas school shooting victim

The Latest: 1st funeral set for Texas school shooting victim

The first funeral for one of the 10 people fatally shot at a high school outside Houston is set for Sunday afternoon
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick Scott avoids mentioning Trump again — even at GOP dinner celebrating Trump

Rick Scott avoids mentioning Trump again — even at GOP dinner celebrating Trump

President Donald Trump was a big part of the Hillsborough County Republican Party's major annual fundraising dinner Saturday – everywhere except in the keynote speech by Gov. Rick Scott, who's running for the U.S. Senate.As he has been doing on...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Malaysia ex-leader seeks police protection amid graft probe

Malaysia ex-leader seeks police protection amid graft probe

Malaysia's national news agency is reporting that former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is under investigation for a massive corruption scandal, has sought police protection over concern about his family's safety
Updated: 2 hours ago