Feds want $267M in Medicaid overpayments back from Florida's hospitals

The federal government is seeking a huge payback in Medicaid overpayments from Florida's hospitals and wants it all this year, the Tampa Bay Times  reported.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that the total overpayment of $267 million occurred over an eight-year period. However, it wants the money back in this calendar year, putting pressure on some of the state's biggest safety net providers.

"Essentially it wipes out any profit we would have next year, so that's kind of why we're struggling with it," Mark Knight, chief financial officer of Jackson Health System, told the Tampa Bay Times. Altogether, the feds have determined that Jackson, the largest public hospital system in Florida, should pay back $47 million. Another big safety net provider, Tampa General Hospital, must pay back $13.3 million.

The hospitals have asked for three years to pay it back, plus assurances that the federal audit has been completed. However, HHS is taking a hardline stance due to the state's refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the article.

"I think there is a very healthy concern in the state that Florida not moving forward with Medicaid expansion has made the feds less cooperative," Knight said.

Even though Medicaid expansion had nominal support from Gov. Rick Scott (R), he was unable to muster support in the Legislature for a bill that would have secured funding from the federal government.

Florida is one of 24 states that has declined to expand Medicaid eligibility under the ACA, and many policy experts believe hospitals in those states will come under increased financial duress between no decrease in uncompensated care and payment cuts under the Disproportionate Share Hospital program.

To learn more:
- read the Tampa Bay Times article