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Floridians oppose cutting hospital funding, industry group says

Fifty-nine percent of Florida voters oppose cutting Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals in order to balance the state budget, according to a poll financed by a group representing the state's safety net hospitals.

The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida has been critical of Gov. Rick Scott's plan to cut $1.4 billion in Medicaid funding to hospitals through a controversial "rate banding" system. The 15 children's, teaching and public hospitals represented by the Alliance would bear 57 percent of those cuts, the organization said.

But the Alliance has also criticized the House's less severe proposal to cut hospital rates by 7 percent across-the-board, or $393 million in total. The state has reduced Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals repeatedly as a budget-balancing tool in recently years, Alliance president Tony Carvalho said via a news release, and it must stop.

“Hospitals acknowledge that our elected leaders have faced very difficult choices in balancing the
state budget without increasing taxes during these tough economic times, but hospitals have sustained
more than their fair share of cuts, and voters recognize hospitals can’t take anymore," Carvalho said. They also recognize that more cuts could lead to a cost shift to small businesses due to increases in private health insurance costs."

The poll of 800 registered Florida voters has a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error and was conducted January 9 through 13 by Hill + Knowlton Strategies on behalf of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. Thirty-three percent of respondents said they would be in favor of budget cuts to Medicaid.

The survey also found that 71 percent voters believe Medicaid is a costly, but important program that should be maintained. Twenty-three percent of respondents said Medicaid is too expensive and should be cut, even if it means people will lose care.

To read the survey questions and see the poll results, click the following link: Download SNHAF Poll Press Release