Obama Administration Cuts Program Funding to Expand Florida Medicaid

AP Photo/Nick Ut
AP Photo/Nick Ut

On Thursday—possibly triggered by the lawsuit brought by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) last month to get the Obama administration to back off its plans to expand Medicaid in his state—the Obama administration announced it would not entirely withhold funds for a federal program called the Low Income Pool (LIP).

The administration said it would fund the program with $1 billion, which is less than half of the current $2.16 billion funding the feds offer, according to The Hill.

Scott felt that by slashing funds for LIP, which compensates hospitals for treating people lacking insurance, Obama was forcing Florida to expand Medicaid. He said last month, “It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal healthcare dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into ObamaCare.” Florida spent over $18 billion on Medicaid in the 2013 fiscal year.

Members of the GOP have accused Obama of “overreach,” calling for a hearing on the matter, but the Obama administration insists that LIP funds should be estimated so they are not covering costs that would be dealt with under Medicaid expansion. The White House said it will still pursue a formal review process.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wrote the state of Florida on Thursday asserting that the $1 billion it will receive will encourage “stability” while the state moves toward another system. The $1 billion figure will plunge to $600 million in 2016-17. The letter also acknowledged, “We believe that Medicaid expansion as evidenced by experience in other states would bring significant benefits to low income Floridians and the Florida health care system.”

Attacking Scott, White House press secretary Josh Earnest pontificated, “It’s difficult to explain why somebody would think that their political situation and their political interest is somehow more important than the livelihood and health of 800,000 people that they were elected to lead.”

CMS has warned other states that when their uncompensated care pools are due for renewal, they may not be funded.