House budget negotiators pushed back against the Senate Wednesday afternoon over health and human services spending — opposing pouring any money into programs that look designed to support the federal health care overhaul.
House lead negotiator Matt Hudson, R-Naples, rejected a series of Senate proposals, including one that would have increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for doctors.
The $338.3 million item was floated earlier Wednesday by Senate Health and Human Services budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, along with another $37.1 million offer to boost payments to dentists treating Medicaid patients.
Hudson said the House won’t accept anything that could be seen as preparing the state for implementing the federal health care rewrite approved by Congress and pushed by the Obama administration.
Talks will continue between the two sides later tonight.
But the House also shrugged at the Senate’s earlier pitch to revive about one-quarter of state spending for the Medically Needy and Medicaid Aged and Disabled programs — which provides costly prescription coverage to 90,000 Floridians, many in critical health.
The House is insisting these big-ticket programs draw full funding in the final state budget.
Hudson said he welcomed the Senate’s move away from its earlier plan to strip state dollars from the programs.
“But it certainly needs to be a bigger step, in my mind,” Hudson said.
In its offer, though, the House finds money for spending on these programs by reducing state payments to hospitals and nursing homes that care for Medicaid patients. The Senate sought to shield nursing homes from the rate cuts — but the House is proposing 8.5 percent reductions in state support.
Meanwhile, community care providers in the deficit-plagued Agency for Persons with Disabilities would face 4.5 percent rate cuts, in the proposal from Hudson.
Negron and Hudson also tentatively agreed to work on setting stricter guidelines for spending by the agency, which Gov. Rick Scott sought to discipline earlier this spring with 15 percent rate hikes aimed at easing a $170 million deficit that had grown over several years.
Negron said lawmakers wanted to preserve services for the Floridians with Down Syndrome, autistic, spinal bifida and other disabilities served by APD. But he cautioned, “Even if you are doing the Lord’s work, you can’t bounce checks.”