Gov. Rick Scott applauded the Trump administration’s decision on Thursday to give Florida $1.5 billion to repay hospitals for the care of patients without insurance through the Low Income Pool program, while defending once again the state’s decision years ago to not expand Medicaid to help more poor Floridians.
“LIP and Medicaid are two completely different programs that serve two very different populations of people,” said Scott in revisiting a bitter and lengthy fight he had with the former Obama administration.
When the Florida Legislature refused to expand Medicaid in 2015, Scott pushed the Obama administration, and later the Trump administration, for authority to continue the LIP program. The Obama administration, though, refused to authorize the program beyond June 30 and moreover reduced financing from a high of $2 billion to a little more than $600 million for the 2015-16 year. It preferred using federal Medicaid dollars to fund health care coverage — not uncompensated care pools such as Florida’s program.
The Trump administration, which took over the White House in January, announced in the spring that it would allow the state to have $1.5 billion for LIP.
The state didn’t finish hammering out the special terms and conditions associated with the money until now under a new five-year sweeping Medicaid 1115 waiver that allows the state to have the supplemental Medicaid financing program as well as operate a mandatory Medicaid managed care program.
In his statement on Thursday, Scott made the argument that LIP and Medicaid are not the same in the patients each serves and how each is funded.
“I want to be clear: Unlike Medicaid, LIP is funded by local governments and the federal government, not the state,” said Scott. “This is federal money that local hospitals draw down.”
Scott, who initially waffled in supporting or rejecting Medicaid expansion, eventually opposed it. He said Thursday that he believed expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was too expensive.
“It would have been a massive expansion of the welfare state for able-bodied adults,” said Scott.
“I am proud the Trump administration has provided the state exceptionally more money than the Obama administration which will give our hospitals the opportunity to cover their charity care for truly needy Floridians,” he said.
“When the Obama administration cut LIP funding to $600 million because Florida refused to expand Medicaid, hospitals were unable to fully reimburse charity care in our state,” he added. “The Trump administration’s commitment will now allow Florida to fully fund charity care, which is good news. It’s now up to Florida hospitals to draw down that money based on the amount of care they provide.”
In a separate statement, Sen. Marco Rubio praised the Trump administration decision on LIP funding.
“I’ve strongly supported the Medicaid waiver and LIP resources since my time in the Florida House with then-Gov. Jeb Bush,” he said. “The extension will enable our state to continue providing care to Medicaid recipients through a managed care program, and the annual $1.5 billion LIP allotment will provide federal resources to Florida hospitals to ensure the most vulnerable patients have access to quality health care.”
For more, visit Politico Florida.