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House budget proposal rejects Scott plan to slash healthcare spending

Published Jan. 24, 2012|Updated Jan. 25, 2012

The subcommittee tasked with creating the House's health and human services budget revealed its plan Tuesday morning, and it doesn't contain steep and controversial cuts proposed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee's plan outlines $29.8 billion in total spending, or about $2 billion more than what the governor proposed. The plan would allocate $7.6 billion in general fund dollars for health and human services, an increase of $200 million from the governor's proposal.

In an effort to free up $1 billion for education, Scott has made health care spending a target, especially Medicaid. He proposed a "rate banding" system that would pay hospitals with similar missions the same daily amount. That would have drastically reduced many hospitals' Medicaid reimbursement, including Tampa General Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The governor's proposal also eliminated the practice of allowing hospitals to use local tax dollars to increase their Medicaid reimbursement. None of this is in the House's plan.

Instead, the House subcommittee's biggest cut would come from reducing hospital reimbursement by 7 percent across-the-board, though children's and rural hospitals are exempt.

Here are some highlights of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee's plan (and the amount of general revenue dollars they save):

* Reduce hospital inpatient and outpatient reimbursement rates by 7 percent ($112 million)

* Reduces nursing home reimbursements by 2.5 percent ($32 million)

* Limits Medicaid patients to two general physician visits a month ($1.3 million)

* Limits Medicaid patients to 12 emergency room visits a year, as suggested by the governor ($6.8 million)

* Eliminates podiatric and chiropractic care reimbursements ($1.8 million)

* Privatizes custodial services at two state-operated mental institutions ($1.8 million)

* Reduces the Road to Independence stipend for former foster children by reducing the maximum age to receive benefits from 23 to 21 ($9.2 million)

To usher in its proposal, the House panel approved two conforming bills: One that implemented the Medicaid changes and the other to reduce the Road to Independence age limit. Both were approved on party-line votes though one Democrat, Charles Chestnut of Gainesville, voted with the majority on the Medicaid adjustments.

A bill containing the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee's budget is expected to be filed by the end of the week.

Posted by Tia Mitchell at 11:48:37 am on January 24, 2012


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