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Sen. Bill Nelson: State shouldn't expect LIP money

Florida lawmakers shouldn’t expect federal money for the Low Income Pool program to fill a $2 billion hole in next year’s state budget, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday, issuing a call for the state to instead expand Medicaid.

“They said already, ‘We are not extending this anymore,’” Nelson said. “I have spoken to (Health and Human Services) Secretary Sylvia Burwell about this, and that is her position.”

Gov. Rick Scott accounted for the funding to continue in his budget, and Wednesday, he called on President Barack Obama to extend the LIP program, which is supposed to end this year.

Nelson made the comments in a meeting with reporters in Tallahassee on Friday, during which he also discussed the investigation into deaths at the Dozier School for Boys and a possible presidential run for that other Florida senator.

He met earlier in the afternoon with Commissioner Rick Swearingen of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to discuss the investigations at Dozier. Last week, the senator requested the U.S. Department of Justice get involved, writing that DOJ is, “uniquely positioned to provide an outside and independent review.”

On Friday, FDLE officials shared with Nelson their findings after reviewing work done by University of South Florida anthropologists that unearthed the remains of 51 people who died at the school in Marianna, Fla.

“They are maintaining that their conclusions are very similar to what Dr. Erin Kimmerle at USF has found,” he said. “What I suggested to them was that after they made the presentation to me, what they should do is give the same briefing to Dr. Kimmerle.”

Nelson said he would like to go over any discrepancies between the reports with FDLE officials and Kimmerle. The department, he said, has shown no resistance to continuing to work with him and other officials in this investigation.