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Politics / Issues

Speaker: LIP Offer Will Help End Impasse

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli

A day after receiving word that Florida likely will receive about $1 billion next year for a key health-care program, House Speaker SteveCrisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said Friday that the information could help end a state budget impasse.

Vikki Wachino, director of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, sent a letter to the state Thursday indicating Florida could expect to receive about $1 billion during the upcoming fiscal year for the Low Income Pool, or LIP, program.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
Credit Florida Legislature
Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island

While that would be a reduction from the program's $2.16 billion total this year, the letter clears up some uncertainty that has dogged efforts by the state House and Senate to agree on a budget.

Lawmakers will go into a special session June 1 and also need to resolve a dispute about a Senate proposal to use federal Medicaid money to expand health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Floridians.

"I appreciate CMS (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) providing this information in a timely manner for special session and for separating LIP funding from Medicaid expansion,'' Crisafulli said in a prepared statement Friday. "While we are still evaluating the effect of the new LIP funding level, this progress will greatly help the House and Senate finalize allocations and pass a balanced budget that meets the needs of Floridians during the upcoming special session in June."

The House and Gov. Rick Scott have opposed the Senate plan to expand coverage. But that issue has been tangled in questions about the future of the Low Income Pool, which sends additional money to hospitals and other health providers that care for large numbers of uninsured patients.

"From the beginning, the House has maintained the Legislature could craft a responsible budget while Governor Scott's administration negotiated with CMS over the future of LIP, and that LIP should not be tied to the Medicaid expansion debate,'' Crisafulli said in the statement. "During this year's regular legislative session, the House made earnest efforts to negotiate a balanced budget by May 1 that set aside state funds as a contingency for LIP, anticipating CMS' decision would not fund LIP at current levels."

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