While Gov. Rick Scott's administration has reached agreement with the federal government on as much as $1.5 billion for the Low Income Pool program, the actual amount going to hospitals in the coming year could be closer to $1 billion, a key lawmaker said this week.
The program, commonly known as LIP, sends additional money to hospitals that provide care to large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. Under the program, local hospital districts and governments put up money, which draws down federal matching funds.
Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said Monday that the “best case scenario” is that Florida would have $579 million of the local dollars to draw down $929 million in federal funds, bringing the total to about $1.5 billion. But she said hospital-industry officials have told her that it would be “challenging” to get the $579 million in local funds. That would reduce the overall amount of available money.
“The figure that seems to be floating around, that seems most realistic, is somewhere right around just over $1 billion,” she said during a budget discussion on the Senate floor.
State and federal officials continue negotiating details about how the LIP money could be used. As a result, LIP money was not included in the new state budget approved Monday night. But when the details are finalized, the state Agency for Health Care Administration will submit a budget amendment to the House and Senate. The budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes $521 million in Medicaid cuts for hospitals. Lawmakers and hospital-industry officials hope the LIP money could help soften the impact of those cuts.