Medicaid rates aren’t the only thing separating chambers on hospital issues
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/10/22-Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, during session Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The House and Senate have proposed funding some big item hospital projects in 2022-23, but how will they resolve funding gaps?

The House and Senate spending plans take different approaches to paying hospitals for caring for the poor elderly and disabled.

It is no surprise, then, that the chambers also have differences when it comes to which hospitals should get additional funding outside of Medicaid payments. These are not the only differences between the House and Senate spending plans for the 2022-23 state fiscal year, but they are some of the biggest battles on hospitals outside of Medicaid reimbursement.

The Senate wants to spend $20 million in recurring general revenue on the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute for the next 30 years. The money is for the construction and development of Moffitt’s Pasco County life sciences park, a top priority for Senate President Wilton Simpson.

However, there is no funding in the House’s proposed budget.

These funds may be used to secure financing to pay costs related to the construction and development of Moffitt’s Pasco County life science park through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds. The $20 million would be in addition to the $37 million increase in cancer funding that Gov. Ron DeSantis requested. The House and Senate agreed to the increase, which brings the total amount of annual recurring cancer funding spent on the hospitals to $100 million.

The $20 million appropriation for H. Lee Moffitt is the biggest difference in health care facility spending, but not the only difference.

House budget writers are recommending that the state spend $3.5 million for Tampa General Hospital for an emerging disease wing. The Senate has recommended that TGH receive $10 million for the project. Initially, the House did not have any money in its proposed budget for TGH, but it offered to earmark $3.5 million on Tuesday. The Senate budget has always included $10 million.

Hillsborough County agreed on Feb. 16 to provide $5 million toward the construction costs, and TGH is hoping that the city of Tampa also will help deter the costs, which at one point were estimated to be about $30 million.

Tampa General Hospital has committed to finance the difference between what it collects from state and local governments and what it needs to build an infectious disease wing.

The chambers also are apart on proposed funding for a new emergency department at Shands Jacksonville.

Initially, the Senate included $1 million in its proposed budget for the construction of what is being called the Leon Haley Trauma Center. Haley, who was hired in 2017 as the Dean of the Medical School of the University of Florida and Jacksonville, died last summer in a jet ski accident.

The House offered to earmark $4 million toward the emergency department. The Senate Tuesday morning countered with a $12 million offer. The offer was made by Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean, who works at Shands as a “relationship development officer.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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