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Senate Seeks To Bolster Hospital Funding

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

On the opening day of a special legislative session, Florida senators Wednesday began moving forward with a proposal to send more money to hospitals for treating Medicaid patients.

The Senate voted to add a hospital-funding bill (SB 4-A) to the special session, which was called last week by Gov. Rick Scott to address economic-development and education issues.

Scott and the House, however, have not gone along with increasing hospital funding during the special session. A budget approved last month by lawmakers and signed by Scott included cutting $521 million in Medicaid payments to hospitals.

But Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said the new bill calls for spending an additional $100 million in state money, which would draw another $160 million in federal matching funds.

In all, that would reduce the expected funding cuts by $260 million.

“Here is an opportunity for us to go a little further in reimbursing the costs that these hospitals take on when they treat the neediest Floridians,” Flores said during a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The committee is expected to approve the bill Thursday morning, with the measure then going to the full Senate. The special session started Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to end Friday.