Lack of Medicaid expansion will cost Florida hospitals billions

The intransigence of the Sunshine State's lawmakers over expanding Medicaid eligibility will cost the state's hospitals billions of dollars over the next several years, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

A report by Florida Legal Services, a non-profit legal advocate for the poor, determined that safety-net hospitals would be hardest hit by the decision, the publication reports. Jackson Health System, which serves low-income residents of the Miami area, stands to lose $570 million a year alone, according to the Times. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Florida is eligible for about $5 billion a year in federal aid to expand Medicaid coverage to about 760,000 Floridians.

Florida has not only passed on the Medicaid expansion funds, but will also eventually lose $240 million a year in disproportionate hospital funding, which was eliminated under the ACA because it was assumed Medicaid expansion would cover its elimination. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states could voluntarily opt out of the Medicaid expansion, and the projected drop in disproportionate share hospital payments will likely hurt hospitals in non-expansion states.

Meanwhile, the Texas Hospital Association [THA] has recommended a plan that would offer insurance coverage for low-income residents of the state, but call it "The Texas Way" or another alternative, in order to appease those hostile to the Medicaid program, according to the Houston Chronicle. The program would require enrollees to have some form of cost sharing, and financially penalize them for accessing care through hospital emergency departments or other inappropriate venues.

Texas, like Florida, has rejected Medicaid expansion and is currently passing on $100 billion in federal funding over the next decade.

To learn more:
- read the Tampa Bay Times article
- check out the Houston Chronicle article