Florida hospital leaders denounce proposed state Medicaid cuts

Hospital leaders are criticizing Florida House and Senate budget proposals that would cut about $300 million of the "critical care fund," which is used to give automatic rate enhancements to safety-net hospitals that treat a large volume of Medicaid patients, Health News Florida reported Feb. 18.

The House is also proposing a $100 million cut in state Medicaid reimbursement money to all hospitals in the state, which is matched by federal funds. The money would instead be used for higher education to train nurses.

State legislators say hospitals are performing well financially and can receive federal Medicaid funding through the Direct Provider Payment program, according to Health News Florida.

Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, told Health News Florida that the money should not replace but supplement state dollars. She also said redirecting the money to nurse education won't solve the workforce problem.

"The funding that we receive for the care provided to Medicaid patients helps to pay the salaries of the nurses, the doctors, the physical therapists, the respiratory therapists," she said. "So cutting that funding to provide to the Department of Education is worse than a zero-sum gain, you are actually digging a deeper hole for hospitals as we try to address the severity of the workforce shortage."

A decision on the final budget will come by March 11.

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