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Florida House Seeks Ways To Trim Health Spending

18 hours ago
Originally published on October 17, 2019 8:43 am

Sending a signal that health care spending could be targeted for reductions next year, a House health panel is going to identify up to $624 million for possible “reprioritization.” 

Health Care Appropriations Chairwoman MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, told The News Service of Florida the “reprioritization” exercise doesn’t mean that there will be $624 million in spending reductions across the six health care-related agencies that fall under her watch.

“It’s not a hard-and-fast number for me,” Magar said. “We’re just looking to really make sure we are spending taxpayer dollars efficiently, effectively, wisely and appropriately.”

The $624 million “reprioritization” equals about 5 percent of the state’s general revenue going to health and human services. General revenue is the main building block of the state budget and comes primarily from sales taxes.

“It’s a goal. It’s a target. It’s just an amount,” Magar said. “If we were going to cut, I would use the word ‘cut.’ ” Magar prefaced her announcement, however, with warnings that Florida’s economy may be cooling.

State economists in August estimated the state will collect about $867.7 million less in general revenue over two years than had been anticipated earlier. Despite that reduction in the estimates, the state is still expected to have a $201.2 million surplus in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Lawmakers will prepare a 2020-2021 budget during next year’s legislative session, which starts Jan. 14. But Magar said the estimates could change. She also said the state is spending money on hurricane recovery but that federal reimbursements have been slow to make it to Florida’s coffers.

“Being very responsible and because of these pressures, I’m asking subcommittee members to participate in a reprioritization exercise. We’re not going to call them cuts,” Magar said.