Florida has officially petitioned the federal government to renew a $2.2 billion program for hospitals that treat low-income patients, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Monday.
State health officials are asking the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue the so-called Low Income Pool program through June 30, 2017. They have submitted a plan created by the Florida Senate that would distribute the funds more broadly than in the past.
"We are expediting our submission of this LIP model in order to help CMS speed up their decision," Secretary Liz Dudek said in a statement. "CMS knows that our budget depends on their rapid response to this model."
The agency will allow members of the public to submit comments on the plan from April 21 through May 22, and will hold public meetings in Orlando (4/29), Miami (4/30) and Tallahassee (5/1).
The uncertainty surrounding the Low Income Pool has brought the budget building process to a virtual halt in Tallahassee. It has also become part of a larger debate on whether to extend subsidized health care coverage to more than 800,000 low-income Floridians.
Last week, Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced his plans to sue the federal government for saying the future of the LIP program would be tied to the Legislature's decision on Medicaid expansion. Scott called the move "a coercion tactic."
The politicking continued Monday, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott commended Scott's decision "to take legal action to protect these important constitutional principles."
"Texas will support Florida in its litigation against the federal government," said Abbott, a Republican whose state is in a similar situation. "Medicaid expansion is wrong for Texas. Florida's approach should be determined by Floridians, not coerced by federal bureaucrats."