Friday, June 12, 2015

Medicaid Mediation

In an unusual move, a federal judge denied the Florida Governor's request to order mediation with President Obama's administration over federal hospital funds for the Low Income Pool or LIP. Rick Scott is suing the Obama administration, alleging it is withholding federal hospital funds because Florida won't expand Medicaid. He asked a judge this week to compel mediation, but the Obama administration responded that they have been engaged in ongoing and productive discussions and that mediation could delay a final decision. It is alleged that the Obama Administration violated the U.S. Constitution by threatening to withhold Low Income Pool dollars if Florida did not expand Medicaid under the new federal healthcare law. Gov. Scott, Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, and the Agency for Health Care Administration are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are the defendants. The Low Income Pool program is a supplemental Medicaid financing program. The federal government initially approved an extension for three years, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services then announced it would not extend the Low Income Pool beyond June 30, 2015. Florida's legislature is in special session because it was unable to pass a budget during the regular session over whether LIP dollars should be included. The Florida Senate budget is $4 billion more than the House’s, including both LIP and Medicaid expansion that the House didn’t in its own proposed budget. The federal government advised Florida that it can expect to receive $1 billion in LIP funding for the 2015-16 year and $600,000 in the 2016-17 year. Gov. Scott claims the legislature has no final approval figure and that such delay is preventing lawmakers from completing the budget. The administration has reportedly given Gov. Scott a tentative decision to extend the funds for two more years at a much lower price. Gov. Scott wants to finalize the state budget by June 30th to avoid a state government shutdown. See stories here-- and