Florida Senate set to roll back hospital cuts, but don't expect the House to go along
Senators are poised to vote today to roll back $260 million in cuts to Medicaid that they passed during the regular session, bringing hospital funding yet again into a political stalemate between the House and Senate.
During regular session, lawmakers agreed to $521 million in cuts to hospital payments, with about $92 million coming from Tampa Bay.
The cuts were part of the budget deal that led to the end of regular session in May.
But Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, says the Senate wasn't happy with that level of cuts, even though the final number was less than what the House or Gov. Rick Scott wanted.
"If we're going to be up here trying to fix the budget, then let's fix the budget," said Flores, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations chairwoman, on Thursday.
Senators have proposed spending another $100 million in state money to shore up the cuts for one year. With federal matching funds, that's a reduction of roughly $260 million from what is in the budget Scott signed last week.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, says it isn't going to happen, though.
For one thing, it's not formally on the agenda for special session, he told reporters Thursday. But for another, he views hospitals as profitable enterprises and has equated increased spending to a handout for hospital CEOs.
"We're very happy with where we are with the funding for hospitals that we did," Corcoran said. "I think they'll be fine."
With the clock ticking toward a scheduled Friday end of the special session and no resolution in sight on the two issues that originally brought lawmakers back to Tallahassee -- education spending and economic development -- Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, has made demands if Corcoran and Scott want his suppport of a deal on those other issues. Among the demands: more hospital spending.
It makes Flores think Corcoran's opposition to restoring the cuts may change.
"There will be at some point an endgame, be it on Friday, or be it two Fridays from now," Flores said. "There will be an endgame beyond what just the speaker and the governor agreed to."