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Clock ticking for governor to sign controversial Medicaid legislation

A controversial measure that would shift $300 million in disputed Medicaid bills to counties has been received by Gov. Rick Scott's office, triggering the 15-day window for him to either sign or veto the legislation. If Scott does neither by the March 29 deadline, it becomes law automatically.

Counties are lobbying the governor to veto HB 5301, arguing that it will put an undue burden on local governments for Medicaid bills they don't believe they owe. Under the plan outlined in the legislation, the state would withhold revenue sharing dollars to cover both the backlog and future Medicaid payments.

Now that the clock is ticking, Scott's office is sure to hear from many of the counties and advocacy organizations like the Florida Tea Party Network and Florida Association of Counties, which have both spoken against HB 5301. Flagler, Indian River and Martin county commissions have already written the governor letters requesting a veto.

"We hope this means that the Governor feels as strongly as FAC does that HB 5301 has no winners, only losers—namely Florida’s taxpayers," Florida Association of Counties spokeswoman Cragin Mosteller said. "As Governor, he has set the standard for efficient government. We share his commitment to that standard and, for that reason, regard HB 5301 as the worst example of government playing fast-and-loose with its budget and its bills."

House Speaker Dean Cannon's office said the measure is one of the first bills to be forwarded to the governor's office post-session because of its widespread implications. Beginning May 1, the Agency for Health Care Administration must begin generating monthly statements outlining the amount each county owes, and the Department of Revenue will reduce revenue-sharing distributions accordingly, the Speaker's office said.

"The bill was sent early so that, if signed by the Governor, these new procedures can be implemented in the timeframe specified by the bill," Katie Betta, Cannon's spokeswoman, said.

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Robert Jenkins

Can he take the Fifth on this one? Betting his Wife's business will be the big winner here.

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