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Hospitals a bit relieved by Scott's budget

Last year, Gov. Rick Scott delivered quite a shock to the state's medical establishment by proposing a cut of about $2 billion in public funding to hospitals.

So when his $74 billion budget was released Thursday, one of the more interested observers was the Florida Hospital Association. But compared to the previous year, Scott's proposed cut of $82 million, or 2 percent, wasn't so bad, said its president, Bruce Rueben.

"If you’re comparing it to last year, it’s clearly a better start," Rueben said Friday. "It indicates that he's taking a more thoughtful approach. We're still going to have a lot of discussion about the cuts in the coming months. It is time we stop making cuts to the elderly, poor and disabled. Hospitals have been cut by over $1 billion since 2005."

Rueben said Scott's overall message that he would take a hard look at how to implement the expansion of Medicaid through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was encouraging. After all, he could have followed the lead of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has said his state won't implement it.

"(Scott) did not say, 'It’s not going to take place in Florida,'" Rueben said. "He should be commended for taking this seriously."