'A gut punch': Florida hospitals slam $500M in proposed Medicaid cuts

Florida hospitals are urging lawmakers to reconsider proposed Medicaid cuts that would lower hospital payments by half a billion dollars in the next fiscal year.

For the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year, Florida legislators said they are seeking cuts to Medicaid to balance a shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state Senate's budget proposal calls for a $251 million cut to Medicaid hospital inpatient and outpatient rates, in addition to a $77 million cut in funds for hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of Medicaid patients, according to the State of Reform.

Florida House leaders are seeking even more cuts in their proposed budget: a $288 million reduction in Medicaid payments for hospital inpatient and outpatient care, and a $226 million reduction to the state's critical care fund for safety-net hospitals, according to the State of Reform

In a March 26 statement about the Senate budget, president Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said lawmakers "have a constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget in good times and in difficult times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, revenues that fund our day-to-day government are down, and we know we have some big expenses on the horizon, which means we had to make difficult choices throughout the budget."

But Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, called the proposed Medicaid cuts "a gut punch to the doctors, nurses and healthcare heroes who risked their lives responding to" the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a March 25 statement. "It is simply beyond belief that during a public health emergency, some state lawmakers chose to balance the budget by cutting funding that serves the elderly, disabled and most vulnerable families in our state."

Ms. Mayhew asked state lawmakers to put some of the $10 billion Florida is set to receive in new federal COVID-19 relief aid toward Florida hospitals.

Senate and House lawmakers have until April 30 to pass a budget, according to the State of Reform.

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