TALLAHASSEE — The federal government told Florida on Thursday that the state will need $1 billion next year to maintain a hospital payment program that's at the center of a political stalemate preventing passage of a new state budget.
In a letter to state health officials, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services said the $1 billion would "maintain stability while the system transitions" to new ways of compensating hospitals for the high cost of treating poor patients, a program known as LIP or low income pool.
Tampa General Hospital, All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Miami's Jackson Health System and Broward Health are among Florida's largest recipients of LIP money. In the current year, those hospitals were promised a total of $731 million in supplemental payments, provided through a blend of federal and local tax money that totals nearly $2.2 billion.
In their letter, the feds did not promise any LIP money. But a House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told lawmakers that the news is a "clear indication (that) Florida will receive a significant level of LIP funds, which will help us in our efforts to finish the budget by the July 1 deadline."
The $1 billion would revert to the level of LIP funding before 2014.
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, told senators that the news is further proof that a form of Medicaid expansion is the right solution.
"It remains clear that a sustainable long-term solution is needed," Gardiner told senators. "As you are aware, the Senate has proposed a Florida solution."