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Health News Florida

Bradley: Chambers 'Very, Very' Close On Health Care Spending

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Lawmakers are coming closer to reaching an agreement on the budget, but they still haven’t publicly discussed one of the biggest sections of the state's roughly $92 billion spending plan: health and human services spending.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley said Thursday that it’s not uncommon for legislators to reach accord on smaller areas of the budget before finalizing funding for state health care agencies.

“Health care is usually the last silo to wrap up, but we are very, very close on health care,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, told reporters.

Bradley refused to disclose the details of the compromise the chambers have been discussing about the health care budget, which includes funds for the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs, the Department of Health and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

One area of contention has been spending on hospitals. The Senate has pushed to redirect the majority of the $64 million in what the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida has dubbed the “critical care fund” toward increasing hospital base rates.

The money currently is directed to 28 hospitals that provide large amounts of charity care. HCA hospitals are leading the charge to eliminate the supplemental payments that are made to the facilities.

House and Senate leaders this session agreed to allocate $10.596 billion in state general-revenue money across health care and social service agencies. That amount comes in below the $10.627 billion the Senate had proposed but more than the $10.54 billion that the House had offered.

The ultimate amount spent on health and human services is far larger than the general-revenue amount because the programs also receive such things as federal Medicaid matching dollars.