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State Mulls Possible End to Health-Funding Program

Agency for Health Care Administration

State health-care officials expect to receive a report next week that spells out options for dealing with the possible end of a program that has provided $1 billion a year to help care for low-income and uninsured people.

The Low Income Pool, or LIP, program is scheduled to expire June 30, unless the federal government approves an extension.

Justin Senior, a deputy secretary at the state Agency for Health Care Administration, told the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that federal officials required an independent study of possible changes in the program, which is tied to the Medicaid system.

That report, done by the firm Navigant, will be submitted by Jan. 15, Senior said. The LIP program is complex, but it has been particularly important to hospitals that serve large numbers of low-income patients.

Senior said the federal government, which provides matching funds through the program, wants changes that include a more equitable financing system. He said state and federal officials have not held discussions about the LIP program since last summer, as they await the results of the study.

Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, said changes could lead to a loss of revenue to the state. "It's a lot of money,'' he said.

Hudson to Run For Senate In 2016

State Rep. Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican who has been a key player in the House on health-care issues, will run in 2016 for a Southwest Florida Senate seat.

Credit Florida House of Representatives
Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples

Hudson announced Wednesday that he will try to succeed Sen. Garrett Richter, a Naples Republican who cannot run again because of term limits. Hudson appears headed toward a GOP primary against Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican who opened a campaign account for the Senate race in November.

They will compete in Senate District 23, which includes parts of Collier and Lee counties. Hudson is chairman of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and, as speaker pro tempore, is a top lieutenant to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.

Clock Running on Jacksonville Stadium Plan

A funding application for the home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars has yet to be deemed complete, as a Feb. 1 deadline nears in the state's new process for determining whether to send sales-tax dollars to stadium projects.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Division of Strategic Business Development continues to work with Jacksonville "to obtain information to determine completion and compliance," spokeswoman Jessica Sims said in an email Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the state agency has started the formal review of an application from Orlando, which seeks $2 million a year for three decades to help pay for a planned $110 million Major League Soccer stadium, Sims said in the email.

The agency previously started application reviews dealing with funding requests for Daytona International Speedway and Sun Life Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins. Daytona International Speedway and South Florida Stadium, the applicant for the Dolphins, are each seeking $3 million a year for 30 years for ongoing improvements to those facilities.

The four venues are competing for this year's pot of $7 million in state sales-tax dollars for stadium projects. By Feb. 1, the Department of Economic Opportunity is required to provide to the Legislative Budget Commission a list that ranks the applicants. State lawmakers crafted the new stadium funding process during the 2014 legislative session.

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