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Latvala Wants To Avoid More Hospital Cuts

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

The Florida Legislature during the 2017 session agreed to a $521 million cut in Medicaid funding for hospitals as part of its $83 billion-plus budget.

Sen. Jack Latvala, the chief budget writer for the Senate, said Thursday he doesn't expect another round of budget cuts for the industry during the upcoming 2018 session.

“That would be a last resort,” says Latvala, R-Clearwater. But in its legislative budget request, the Agency for Health Care Administration, which operates the Medicaid program, proposed another round of deep cuts for hospitals. AHCA, for example, recommended eliminating automatic rate enhancements, which would reduce reimbursements by $318 million in state and federal dollars.

Agencies annually compile proposed reduction lists as part of the legislative budget process. The question is whether the Legislature will target the areas that have been identified by the agencies in what is expected to be a tight budget year.

A financial outlook prepared by state economists in September said Florida's surplus may be as small as $52 million, but those projections did not include the state's costs responding to Hurricane Irma.

Regardless, at an Associated Press event where the governor and legislative leaders were invited to discuss the upcoming session with reporters and editors, Latvala said he thinks hospitals have had enough reductions.

“I don't plan on doing that if I can help it,” Latvala said, adding, “They got a big cut last year and we need to see how all that works out. A lot of people work in hospitals. It's a major industry, and we just got to look at it very carefully.”