New proposal could cost Florida hospitals $800M

The state of Florida is considering eliminating inpatient coverage from its program for medically needy residents--a move that could cost hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars, reports Health News Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott and other Republicans in the state Senate are proposing to cut all but basic physician services for everyone except pregnant women and children. The program serves about 40,000 residents with debilitating illnesses and large medical bills they would not be able to pay otherwise.

The proposed cuts would cost Florida's hospitals about $800 million a year. They provide the bulk of the treatment for the state's medically needy, who often require extensive medical care but do not qualify for Medicaid.

"Eliminating (medically needy) hospital coverage for this population doesn't create any new cost containment,'' Tony Carvalho, president of the Florida Safety Net Alliance, recently told the House Health Appropriations Committee. Carvalho estimates that the state's six teaching hospitals would lose $330 million.

However, the program has come onto lawmakers' radar because of its continually escalating costs. Medically needy residents required $763 million to cover their needs last year, and their cost is expected to hit $1 billion this year and $1.4 billion in 2012.

For more:
- read the Health News Florida article
- read the CBS Miami article