Months after Florida lawmakers rejected $51 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid, state officials are prepared to request billions in new federal aid for a different program to improve care for the poor, uninsured and under-insured.
But this cash grab, for whatever reason, has yet to ignite a political furor.
State officials want to grow its Low Income Pool (LIP) program from $1 billion a year to possibly $3 billion a year, said Justin Senior, deputy secretary for Medicaid at the Agency for Health Care Administration. The additional money could be used to help hospitals cover charity care, provide premium support for low-income Floridians or expand current health care programs.
"Our feeling at the agency is that there are opportunities here to make the LIP program larger," Senior recently told lawmakers, who didn't object. "We have talked with the federal government about that, and the federal government, by and large, they seem generally receptive to the possibility of it."
Even contemplating accepting additional federal LIP dollars seems at odds with the Legislature's stone-cold rejection of additional Medicaid funding tied to health care reform. But it highlights how intertwined Tallahassee and Washington are — whether Republican lawmakers in the state Capitol like it or not.
Rep. Matt Hudson, the Naples Republican who chair's the House's health care budget committee, said it's best to keep the two discussions separate.