Gov. Rick Scott met Wednesday with senators to discuss moving forward with budget negotiations. Scott used an Agency for Health Care Administration study listing the profit margins for hospitals.
Budget negotiations have derailed over a plan to use Medicaid money to make up for the loss of revenue when the federal government ends a reimbursement program for hospitals providing care to the poor.
The Senate thinks not to address the issue would be irresponsible and Scott and the House disagree.
Wednesday, after speaking to a rally calling attention to child sexual abuse Scott briefly spoke with reporters about the budget standoff.
Q: What was the message you delivered to the senators with whom you met today?
Scott: As you know, I came into the session with three priorities all for Florida families. Make sure families put money back in their pocket, with $670 million in tax cuts. Make sure they can afford to go to higher education and on top of that make sure they have the highest per-pupil funding in the state.
All these things are for the families. I remain optimistic that all those priorities will get done. I know what’s important is the House, the Senate and the governor need to find out a way to work together and make sure it is good for all of our citizens, is what we talked about today.
Q: Senator Lee just told us he believes what is happening is damaging to the Republican Party. The image of the Republican Party, do you agree with him?
Scott: I can tell you what I am doing. I am focused on what is good for Florida families. That is what I’ve done since I got here. I think about my job this way. I grew up in a family that struggled to make ends meet. I think my biggest job is to make sure those families can get a job and get a good education and that is what I’m going to continue to do. Live in a safe environment and that is what I ran on both in 2010 and 2014. And that is what I’ve done all my sessions and what I’m going to continue to do while I’m governor.
Q: Do you have a sense that the Florida Senate FHIX plan is only going to make profitable hospitals more profitable?
Scott: What I’m focused on is one, spending Florida taxpayer money well. We’ve gone from my first year a $4 billion budget deficit to now we have for the second year in a row over a $1 billion surplus, closer to $2 billion surplus this year than a $1 billion. I’m going to continue to try to spend the money that is good for the families because of what I know from own personal experience what they are worried about.
They are worried about jobs. They are worried the education of their child. They are worried about living in a safe community.
I want to make sure this is a successful session for all Florida families and I’m going to continue to work with the Florida House and the Florida Senate to make sure we get there.
Q: Yesterday, though it seemed, you wanted to open the books on hospitals and take a look at their finances. Do you think they will not be adversely affected if LIP money goes away?
Scott: Here’s the way I look at it. We want to make sure that all our citizens have an opportunity to get health care. It is important to every family.
I grew up in a family that most of the time didn’t have health insurance. I had a brother that had to go to a Shriners’ hospital four hours away because he couldn’t get health care that my parents could afford in Kansas City where I was living at the time.
I know it’s important.
So, as we invest, whether it is through our Medicaid program, whether it is through other types of programs like LIP where there is investment in our health care community we ought to understand how the dollars are spent. And we ought to make sure before we take any Florida taxpayer money that it is spent in a way to help as many people as possible to have health care that they can afford and actually receive and that they feel good about.
Q: If it is so important then why didn’t you file a formal request for LIP until Monday?
Scott: The way the LIP program has worked is that AHCA would work with CMS and come to an agreement and then once you would come to an agreement you would make the proper filing.
Unfortunately this year that has not worked.
While AHCA was optimistic that was what was going to happen that is not what worked. So, now we’ve found that the right process is to go ahead and make our filing and we took the Senate plan and made that filing to see if we can get an agreement with CMS. That is how we got the process started.