Children’s health, training future docs focus of House’s proposed health care budget
Sam Garrison is close to home, like all of us, these days.

The budget also directs millions to AHCA to help with its efforts to re-procure the state's Medicaid managed care program.

The House has released a proposed health care budget for fiscal year 2023-24 that puts an emphasis on children’s health care coverage and training physicians.

The proposed budget released Wednesday by House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Sam Garrison also increases the Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes and other providers and directs millions of dollars to the state Agency for Health Care Administration to help with its efforts to re-procure the state’s Medicaid managed care program.

For the first time in more than a decade neither the House nor the Senate, which released its proposed health care spending plan Tuesday, proposed cutting Medicaid rates for Florida hospitals. 

Garrison told Florida Politics Wednesday that he isn’t making any “statement” regarding hospitals in his proposed hospital spending plan.

“Every year’s budget is different. I think our focus this year is slightly different from last year, coming out of COVID. So, I think it’s a ‘new normal,’ Garrison said.

Hospitals have routinely faced reductions in their inpatient and outpatient Medicaid reimbursement rates.

After the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) released a study showing that the state was facing a looming nursing shortfall, the House released a proposed health care budget last year that pared back hospital payments by $259 million to help cover the costs of new nursing training programs. While the move was defeated, the proposed reductions the industry potentially faced were real.

Garrison said his proposed spending plan puts a focus on children and training physicians.

“Our focus this year is on recruiting and training the best physicians and ensuring that children of working families are taken care of,” he said.

To that end, his proposed budget includes $34 million to fund a bill (HB 121) that expands Florida KidCare eligibility to children living in families with incomes at 300% of the federal poverty level.

Garrison’s proposed budget also includes $30.8 million in recurring general revenue to provide a bump in the Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to pediatricians. That state money draws down an additional $45.2 million in federal funds for an overall $76.1 million bump in Medicaid rates.

The Senate did not include the increased funding for pediatric physicians. However, the Senate spending plan did increase the Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals that treat the most sick pediatric patients in the state.

The House has agreed to spend $95 million to increase Medicaid nursing home reimbursement rates. In doing so, the House took a similar position to the Senate, which earmarked $92.8 million to increase funding for nursing homes. Both chambers targeted the increased funds at the quality metric in the prospective payment system formula the state uses to reimburse skilled nursing facilities.

In a prepared statement, Florida Health Care Association CEO Emmet Reed thanked legislative leaders for “recognizing the need to invest in the quality care being delivered in our state’s nursing centers.”

Another similarity between the chambers’ budgets is the inclusion of additional funding for graduate medical education (GME) programs, including $30 million for a residency program championed by the Florida Medical Association.

The House’s proposed budget also includes $9.6 million to increase Medicaid reimbursement for durable medical equipment (DME) providers. The Senate’s spending plan also increases rates for DME providers, but it allocates $19.3 million, including $7.8 million in recurring funds.

Meanwhile, the House budget would send $1.25 million in non-recurring state funds to AHCA so it can hire legal, actuarial, and other experts to help support AHCA’s efforts to re-procure the statewide Medicaid managed care program. That would draw down another $1.25 million in matching federal dollars, giving the agency a total of $2.5 million to hire outside staff.

But it doesn’t end there.

The House’s proposed proposal also directs $974,666 in state money for AHCA to hire outside staff to assist the state as it transitions from the Florida Medicaid Management Information System (FMMIS) to the new Florida Health Care Connection (FX) project. The state funds are matched by $ $8.7 million in federal dollars giving the state a total of $9.7 million to spend on hiring outside information technology staff to assist with the transition.

The budget also provides $153.2 million, of which $20.8 million is state funding, to continue work on the FX program. Another $8.4 million, $5.5 million of it from the state, is earmarked for AHCA to hire Independent verification and validation services to ensure the FMMIS-to-FX transition is completed on schedule and without incident.

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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