Florida hospitals balk at turning over financial information

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has asked for financial information from most of the hospitals in the Sunshine State, and many of them are telling them to go look it up himself, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal.

Scott's request is based on his recent creation of the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, which was convened to help him end a stalemate over a federal program that pays Medicaid dollars to treat indigent patients. President Barack Obama's administration has insisted that Florida simply expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act instead--something both the state Legislature and Scott oppose. The commission is attempting to determine whether hospital surpluses could be used in a kind of cost-sharing pool to cover the ongoing costs of providing care to indigent patients.

Scott had once supported Medicaid expansion but has since changed his mind--likely for political reasons, MSNBC reported. Meanwhile, the program that provides funds for uninsured patients runs out on June 30. Scott met with federal officials earlier this month, but did not reach a resolution.

But the hospital sector, which supports Medicaid expansion, has been less than helpful in providing data. According to the Business Journal, most of the query forms sent out by the commission came back barely filled out. Many hospitals have suggested that the body turn to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration in order to obtain the information that they requested.

Joe Johnson, chief executive officer of Florida Hospital Carrollwood wrote to the commission that "Florida Hospital regularly reports financial and hospital utilization data to the Agency for Health Care Administration, as required by state law," according to the Business Journal. "We believe our submissions are up to date, accurate and readily available to the public for review. In order to meet your urgent request, we respectfully refer you to consult AHCA to obtain this comprehensive information." Johnson also urged Scott to expand Medicaid eligibility instead.

Other hospitals submitted letters saying the request for data was unclear, and that they would await further clarification. Only a handful actually responded with financial data, and in at least one instance, involving The Villages Regional Hospital, that information was accompanied by a caution that diverting surpluses would impact its ability to serve its patients.

To learn more:
- read the Jacksonville Business Journal article 
- check out the MSNBC article

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