He and Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, made the last-minute trip at the request of Senate President Andy Gardiner.
The two lawmakers met with representatives from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to discuss Florida's Low Income Pool program. The federal government has said it will not continue the $2.2 billion hospital funding program in its current form, blowing a sizable hole into the state health care budget.
García said he outlined a Senate proposal for a LIP replacement program, which would distribute the money more broadly than the current model does.
"I wanted to present our case as to why I think the LIP model that we have is something they can approve, and to try to get them to move on LIP so we can know what to do in the state of Florida as we go into budget conference," he said.
The feedback, he said, was "very positive."
García stressed the fact that the legislature has only a few more weeks to finalize Florida's budget, he said.
"We can't do our budgets without them," García said.
The hour-long discussion also covered Medicaid expansion.
"There was a conversation on both [the LIP and Medicaid] fronts because in our budget, one is tied to another," García said.
For the past three years, Florida has refused $51 billion in federal money earmarked for expanding subsidized health care coverage. The Senate is now advancing a plan to expand coverage through the use of a state-run marketplace for private insurance. But the House has refused to consider it.
Some observers have speculated that the federal government won't extend Florida's LIP program unless the legislature expands Medicaid.
García said his plan was to send a clear message on both issues.
"We want CMS to know that the Senate is serious about the Low Income Pool and the issues around Medicaid and the plan that we have," he said.
García and Richter weren't the first Floridians to meet with CMS about the LIP program. The state Agency for Health Care Administration has spent the last several weeks trying to negotiate a successor program.
On Tuesday, Agency Secretary Liz Dudek said she was unaware the two senators were meeting with CMS. She said the agency had already presented the Senate proposal.
García said his trip was not meant supersede the those negotiations.
"We were not there to negotiate," he said. "All we were there to do was... let them know we are working on it and trying to find solutions."