Friday, February 20, 2009

Legislative Update: February 16-20, 2009

This week legislators wrapped up the last of their committee meetings before the start of the regular session on March 3rd. Most of the time was spent on meetings regarding the budget and the federal stimulus package, with a few bills being filed.

The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) gave a presentation to the Senate's Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee on the impact of the federal stimulus package to Florida, which includes the FMAP increase. The Federal Medical Assistance Percentage is used in determining the amount of federal matching funds for the state's expenditures for assistance payments for certain social services, such as Medicaid. Florida is expected to see close to $3.5 billion for health care from the package, with its federal share of the match rising from the current 55% to 68%. The Committee also heard a presentation on Medicaid fraud and abuse, which costs the state significant dollars each year.

The House Health Care Appropriations Committee heard a presentation from AHCA on the Nursing Home Quality Assessment Program, which was created during the special session in January. The Assessment will help draw down additional federal dollars and allowed nursing homes to avert nearly $231 million in cuts to resident care funding. Instead the Assessment will restore the Medicaid funding cuts imposed on nursing homes in January 1, 2008 and January 1, 2009, as well as March 2009. The Assessment will become effective April 1, 2009 and will be calculated annually on a per-resident basis, exclusive of Medicare resident days. AHCA must seek a federal waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for this to occur and precautions are in place in case that waiver has not been approved.

A number of bills were filed this week that impact long term care providers in Florida. Deregulation, insurance, "therapeutic interchange," personal needs allowance and the use of video surveillance in nursing homes are among the top issues we are tracking. You can read more about these bills and FHCA's position on the issues, as well as other legislative activities happening on behalf of FHCA members by visiting our Members-Only Legislative Section.

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