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Senate HHS budget a high-wire act, no nets

by John Kennedy | March 21st, 2011

A stark state spending plan, flush with red ink, began taking shape Monday in the state Senate, with school dollars sliced 6.5 percent and a health care proposal on track to save $1 billion in Medicaid spending, much of it from program cuts.

Health and Human Services budget chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, praised the Senate’s $28 billion for maintaining spending on some key program, including funding for homeless, AIDS drug assistance, and the state’s KidCare and Healthy Start insurance programs.

But he acknowledged the Senate — like the House — is ready to recast Medicaid, putting almost 3 million Floridians into managed care programs to trim costs, while also cutting services.

“We’ve heard that the current system is irretrievably broken, so we’re starting a new system,” Negron said. 

A Medicaid pilot program operating in five counties since 2006, including Broward, has been derided as a failure by many critics. But Negron said the new program will look nothing like the pilot program and will not drive frustrated patients to use hospital emergency rooms — one of the costliest venues for care.

But the Senate is banking heavily on its high-wire reform effort. In the budget unveiled Monday, hospitals would lose 10 percent of state funding for treating both in- and outpatient Medicaid recipients — cutting $450 million from the budget. 

 The Medically Needy program, an optional program long paid by the state and federal governments, would be sharply scaled back to save $230 million under the Senate budget — eliminating financial help given transplant patients and other hard-to-insure Floridians.

School funding, meanwhile, would drop 6.5 percent under the Senate plan. In the good-cop, bad-cop approach of budgeters, that’s still the mildest slice: The House has recommended a 7.7 percent per-pupil reduction, while Gov. Rick Scott called for a 10 percent drop.

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3 Responses to “Senate HHS budget a high-wire act, no nets”

  1. Jesse Smith Says:

    First the Senate passes anti-obamacare legislation day one, now they make drastic cuts to socialized medicine. As a doctor I am glad that Haridopolos understands that our government should have no role in setting wages for doctors and paying for patient care.

  2. bill Neubauer Says:

    On the matter referred to as “cutting education,” I doubt if it is drastic as it at first seems. Of course we hope that school board members, but especially administrators, will make sure that NO TEACHERS ARE CUT! Every district has a lot of non-teaching staff padding, guidance counselors, lobbyists, curriculum coordinators, test designers, PR spokesmen, and on and on and on, people who have nothing to do with kids. The cuts should start–and end–THERE!

  3. rubyyim Says:

    Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. If you don’t have insurance for you and your children search “Wise Medical Insurance” online they are the best.

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