- 2012 - November - 2nd -

Hospitals to see lower Medicaid rates

by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

Pointing to limits in the state budget, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration on Wednesday made changes in expected Medicaid payment rates that will cost hospitals about $60 million.

The reductions will be spread among dozens of hospitals across the state and were announced as the administration finalized rates for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The issue centers on a complicated process that involves local governments contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid money that can then be used to draw down additional federal funds for hospitals.

Local governments agreed to put up $392.7 million that would go to two pots of money for hospitals, but the 2012-13 budget approved by lawmakers only called for spending $367.3 million in those areas. The agency said it had to stay within the budgeted amount — leading to reductions in what hospitals expected to receive.

“The agency is committed to following the law and will remain within the limits of its budget authority,’’ the administration said in a notice released late Wednesday afternoon.

Officials with the Florida Hospital Association and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida were not immediately available for comment.

While the reduction in local money is about $25.4 million, hospitals also would receive less federal matching money than expected — bringing the total to about $60.1 million, according to Tom Wallace, the administration’s bureau chief of Medicaid finance.

Hospital Medicaid rates and the contributions of local governments, known in Tallahassee as “intergovernmental transfers,” have been high-profile budget issues in recent years. Hospitals have grappled with rate cuts as lawmakers have looked for ways to balance the health- and human-services budget.

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