Budget conference: Health care budgets inch closer on children’s care, but grow apart on funding aging issues
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child health care
It's less than the House wants, but the Senate agreed to fund $21M for Florida KidCare.

House and Senate budget negotiators — with just days left to wrap up work on a roughly $114 billion budget — have agreed to set aside $2 million to help support Medicaid managed care procurement efforts.

Monday marked the beginning of budget negotiations between the House and the Senate. Health care budget conferees met briefly Monday in what was expected to be the first meeting of the day. The Senate opened negotiations with a round of offers aimed at bridging the differences between the spending plans.

Besides working out a deal on money for procurement efforts, they also have agreed to move closer on other issues, such as how much more money to spend on a subsidized children’s health insurance program for low-income families and how much additional money the state should direct to nursing homes to care for the state’s poor elderly and disabled populations.

The Senate agreed to include some money for a priority for House Speaker Paul Renner: expanding Florida KidCare. Headed into the budget negotiations, the Senate had not included any additional money to expand Florida KidCare to families with incomes at 300% of the federal poverty level.

The Senate’s proposed $21 million is still shy of what the House has proposed. The House is slotting in $34.6 million to expand coverage to children living in families at 300% of the federal poverty level. To help ensure physicians will treat children on the KidCare program, the House budget includes $76.14 million for pediatric physician fee increases.

The Senate did not offer to include additional funds for pediatric physicians on Monday.

Monday’s meeting was the first held after Legislative leaders announced on Friday they had agreed to budget allocations, which usually marks the official start of the budget conference process. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Speaker Renner agreed to spend $15 billion in general revenue on health and human services spending for Fiscal Year 2023-24.

The Senate lowered the amount of new Medicaid funding to increase the nursing home reimbursement rate. While the Senate initially offered to direct $ 93.78 million to increase nursing home reimbursement rates, it lowered that offer to $93.18 million. The move takes the Senate further away from the House, which has proposed allocating $95.5 million.

The Senate also beefed up its proposed new spending for the Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE. The Senate upped its spending to $38.9 million from the initial $31.9 million if offered. The House budget appropriates $14.15 million for PACE funding.

While the Senate offered to increase funding in some areas and decrease it in others, the chamber did not change its position on a number of issues, including funding for durable medical equipment. The Senate has offered to spend $19.3 million, significantly more than the $9.6 million the House proposed spending.

There also wasn’t any movement on graduate medical education (GME). The Senate continues its push for $93.7 million for a statewide residency program and also has maintained its commitment to spend nearly $15.5 million on a new residency program promoted by the Florida Medical Association (FMA).

The House has directed $30 million for the FMA-supported residency program but has not directed any increased funding for the statewide GME program.

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.

One comment

  • Lex

    April 25, 2023 at 12:49 pm

    This is actually a pretty interesting issue for the State. We have so many families and people that “retire” to Florida. So those retirees pay taxes into their former state while they were working and then move to Florida to retire. This shifts the tax burden for caring for these retirees to Florida and its taxpaying citizens. Those retirees were “paying it forward” in their previous state and are likely paying a fraction of the taxes in Florida as they move to smaller homes and are probably less active in sales tax.

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