Medicaid law to cost Florida counties millions

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed into a law a bill that dramatically cost shifts the Medicaid program over to the state's 67 counties, The Miami Herald reported.

The bill, HB 5301, changes how counties are paid for Medicaid. Since the early 1990s, the counties have had to reimburse the state for up to 35 percent of Medicaid costs, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. The percentages under the new law will verge toward 100 percent.

Counties will be allowed to dispute payments the state claims it is owed in administrative hearings, but will bear the full balance of the charges if they lose in the hearing. If counties opt out of the hearting, they will have to pay back 85 percent of the amount to the state, the Herald noted.

All of the counties objected to the legislation, according to the Herald, claiming it failed to address shortcomings in how the Florida state government handles Medicaid billing. "Rather than correcting Tallahassee's error-ridden Medicaid billing system, HB 5301 codifies it and leaves local taxpayers with the bill," Doug Smith, a Martin County commissioner and president of the Florida Association of Counties, said in a statement.

The change is expected to cost shift as much as $335 million a year to counties, including $14 million a year to Broward County, the state's second most populous, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

To learn more:
- read the Miami Herald article
- here's the Sun-Sentinel article