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Friday, Sep 21, 2018
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Advocacy group says Senate Medicaid budget plan would hurt Hillsborough

TAMPA - Tampa General Hospital could lose $7.4 million next year under a Florida Senate plan to recalculate payments for treating the poor. That’s an even bigger hit than originally expected, a hospital advocacy group said Friday. Hospitals in metropolitan counties like Hillsborough could lose more than $112 million next year under the plan, Tony Carvalho, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, said in an updated analysis of the bill. The alliance criticizes the Senate plan in part because it diverts a portion of local sales taxes from Hillsborough and other counties to a statewide Medicaid reimbursement fund. It also doesn’t like that the state’s for-profit hospitals benefit more from the new formulas than the alliance’s 14 public and nonprofit facilities. In Hillsborough County, roughly $26 million from a local tax would go to help counties that don’t have a local source of revenue. Much of that money currently is used to help offset costs at Tampa General Hospital, which serves a large portion of uninsured patients.
“More (uninsured) people will show up at the emergency rooms … and there will be no money to pay for their care,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, a former state legislator. Instead, the alliance backs a House plan that doesn’t divert local taxes and also increases state reimbursements to hospitals treating Medicaid patients, Carvalho said. Both proposals are now in the hands of legislative negotiators. Hillsborough County Commissioners this week also voiced opposition to the Senate’s plan, which would take away 45 percent of federal matching funds for the tax, which covers acute and preventive health care for uninsured county residents. A county attorney also is looking at whether the state legally can claim any of the local tax or federal match, both of which totaled $93.8 million last year.

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