Monday, December 18, 2017
Health

Medicaid bill for counties cut in half, though objections remain

TALLAHASSEE — The amount of money the state says counties owe for unpaid Medicaid bills has been cut nearly in half.

New calculations from the Agency for Health Care Administration say Florida's 67 counties now owe $168 million to help cover Medicaid costs. That's down from $325.5 million.

Counties will be asked to settle their debts over five years starting in October. They could also chose to file an appeal in administrative court.

The news is better for some counties than others. As part of the revised estimates, 10 counties — though none in Tampa Bay — went from owing money to being owed money.

Pinellas County's share of the costs dropped from $28.3 million to $17.9 million, and Hillsborough County now owes $9.4 million, down from an initial $21.1 million.

In Hernando County, the bill dropped from $3.4 million to $1.6 million while Pasco County's bill decreased from $4.3 million to $4.1 million.

The Legislature ordered the state to begin collecting unpaid bills as part of its plan to balance the state budget in 2012.

After counties objected, saying the bills were the result of a faulty billing system and that counties would have to raise taxes, Gov. Rick Scott said counties would only have to pay what could be proven they owed.

The Florida Association of Counties is still suing over the unpaid Medicaid bills, claiming they represent an "unfunded mandate."

The suit also alleges that the backlog calculations include bills that are outside the four-year statute of limitations.

Some counties say the final bill remains wrong.

St. Johns County, for instance, says it owes nothing. The state says it owes $763,268.

"I'm not really happy about the process; they've changed the criteria all the way around," St. Johns County assistant administrator Jerry Cameron said. "The outcome of this appears not to be governed by the governor's promise" that counties only have to pay what is proven.

Medicaid is a health insurance program mainly for low-income families and the disabled paid for by a mix of federal, state and local dollars. More than 3 million Floridians participate in Medicaid at a cost of about $20 billion annually.

Tia Mitchell can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
City Council sinks deal to alter ownership of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

City Council sinks deal to alter ownership of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — After months of tense negotiations and weeks of political impasse, the City Council on Thursday derailed a proposal that would have changed the ownership structure of the city’s largest hospital, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.The 5-...
Published: 12/14/17
Florida hospitals call for more funding in effort to address looming doctor shortage

Florida hospitals call for more funding in effort to address looming doctor shortage

The number of doctors practicing in Florida has not kept up with the state’s surging population growth, and more money is needed to recruit and keep them here, hospital leaders said Wednesday.The shortage is particularly acute in four speciality area...
Published: 12/13/17
An overlooked epidemic: Older Americans taking too many unneeded drugs

An overlooked epidemic: Older Americans taking too many unneeded drugs

Consider it America’s other prescription drug epidemic.For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 per...
Published: 12/13/17
How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

Florida slightly improved its national standing this year, rising from 36th to 32nd overall in the annual America’s Health Rankings report. But the takeaway for the nation’s third-largest state is that it has a long way to go in many important health...
Published: 12/12/17
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Published: 12/12/17
Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Jimmy Kimmel was absent from his ABC late-night show last week while his 8-month-old son, Billy, recovered from his second heart surgery. Ever since Billy was born with a heart defect and required immediate surgery, Kimmel has become an outspoken adv...
Published: 12/12/17
Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

With just four days left to enroll for health insurance on the federal exchange, advocates for the Affordable Care Act say Florida is headed for a record-breaking year. In week five of the six-week open enrollment period, about 823,180 people signed ...
Published: 12/12/17
A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

While fighting back tears, young Keaton Jones couldn’t stop asking one question: Why?"Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it?" he asks his mother while in the passenger seat of a parked car. "Why do you find joy in taking in...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17