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Florida Hospitals Worry About Low Income Funding

Nick Evans

Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida members are worried federal and state lawmakers will reduce health care funding for low income Floridians.

Potential changes to the federal healthcare system are making Florida hospitals nervous. Tony Carvalho, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, said the state already receives less money than it needs to care for uninsured patients. He said the problem will get worse if Congress limits federal funding for Medicaid by making it into a block grant.

“We are very concerned about locking into an inequitable level of funding that may hurt the state for decades to come because once they are set, it’s very difficult to change," he said.

Carvalho said the federal government should actually reimburse the state’s hospitals $1.6 billion for uninsured patient care.But he said the federal government has instead reduced the amount of money it gives the state for low income care while giving Texas, who also did not expand its Medicaid coverage, 500 percent more money per person.

“The policy is clear that they deducted a significant amount of reimbursement for Florida because we didn’t expand Medicaid, but they didn’t do that for other states," he said.

Florida’s in the process of working out the amount of federal low income funding it will get for this year.

Carvahlo says there are also rumors state lawmakers will vote to further reduce Medicaid provider rates. That could bar access to health care for low-income patients.

Sarah Mueller is a journalist who has worked for media outlets in several states since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010 and worked as a print reporter covering local government and politics.