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Hospital Funding Decision A Key In Senate Budget

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Senate panel Wednesday signed off on an initial health and human-services budget proposal that counts on the federal government approving $607 million for a program that sends money to hospitals.

Florida officials have grappled in recent years with reductions in the Low Income Pool, or LIP, program, which provides money to help care for poor and uninsured patients. The state is asking the federal government to approve $607 million for the coming year.

While the request has not been approved, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee included it in a budget proposal that otherwise would cut hospital Medicaid funding by $258.6 million. Subcommittee Chairwoman Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said state officials are relatively confident that the federal government will approve the money, which also was included in Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

If the money is not approved, Flores said the Senate will have to "reassess."

An initial House budget proposal released this week includes $621.8 million in cuts for hospitals and does not bank on federal approval of the additional money. The budget proposals are starting points as the House and Senate prepare to negotiate a final spending plan in the coming weeks.