Saturday, September 22, 2018
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
Too late for many, Florida’s prescription database is finally mandatory

Too late for many, Florida’s prescription database is finally mandatory

This is a story of success. Or maybe it’s a cautionary tale.The difference, I suppose, is whether you are haunted by the lives ruined and lost, or you are focused on the path going forward. Either way, you need to understand the history and the playe...
Published: 09/22/18
Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

TAMPA — As John Reisinger waited with family at Tampa General Hospital, grief settled in like a fog. So some of the details are hazy.But he remembers the moment when three women in white lab coats approached him.The day before, his niece, Jessica Rau...
Published: 09/21/18
I was hospitalized for my eating disorder. Here's what Netflix shows get right and wrong about it.

I was hospitalized for my eating disorder. Here's what Netflix shows get right and wrong about it.

It took me a year and a half to watch Netflix’s To the Bone. The movie, which debuted in January 2017, portrays Ellen, a 20-year-old woman battling anorexia nervosa, and her experience being in and out of various treatment programs. When it w...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/21/18
All Children’s unveils a $95 million research center. Next step: ‘Cure some diseases.’

All Children’s unveils a $95 million research center. Next step: ‘Cure some diseases.’

ST. PETERSBURG — "Vicky Hopkins" is 37 weeks pregnant and splayed on a bed at Johns Hopkin’s All Children’s Hospital. Four obstetricians surround her as she groans."My back is killing me," she complains, but she keeps pushing. Soon the round shape of...
Published: 09/20/18
Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

WASHINGTON — Thousands of foster children may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, says a federal watchdog agency that found a failure to care for youngsters whose lives have already been disrupted...
Published: 09/17/18
Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

The prominent New York City gynecologist didn’t bother to conceal his disdain."Stop practicing Google medicine," Lina Kharnak remembers the doctor chiding her when she asked about a possible cause of her worsening leg and back pain. The disease about...
Published: 09/16/18
Updated: 09/17/18
Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Since Saturday morning, patients and staff in Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion and Rehabilitation Center have been advised against using running water.As of Sunday afternoon, it was not known when the recommended ban would be lifted.According t...
Published: 09/16/18
Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

What makes you mad? Dropping your new phone in the toilet — after deciding not to take the extra coverage that would have replaced it? Being cut off in traffic? Having a parking place "stolen" from you? Doing dishes after shopping for and cooki...
Published: 09/14/18
Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

The toxic algae bloom known as Red Tide has left a trail of dead fish in its wake up the western coast of Florida. The bloom that had been wreaking havoc on our southern neighbors has now made its way to the Tampa Bay area. High concentrations of the...
Published: 09/14/18
In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

The health care business in Florida and across the nation is the midst of monumental change as insurers, hospital chains and even retailers begin to venture outside their traditional roles. Hospitals are getting into the insurance end of the busines...
Published: 09/17/18