Thursday, January 27, 2011

Legislative budget requests, Medicaid reform workshops on the agenda this week

Legislators held a number of committee meetings this week, with FHCA staff and lobby team members up at the Capitol keeping apprised of any items related to long term care. During Tuesday's House Healthcare Appropriations meeting, state agencies were asked to review with legislators their priority list of budget cuts. AHCA presented their issues related to nursing home cuts, which included a freeze on nursing home rates and a rate cut that amounted to a total of $231.9 million. They also recommended reducing the number of paid bed hold days for hospitalization from eight to five.

The Agency for Health Care Administration's (AHCA) legislative budget request was developed late last year prior to the Governor's election. Gov. Scott has until February 7th to submit his budget to the Legislature, which may be different from the issues previously developed by AHCA.

On Tuesday, FHCA Treasurer Joe Mitchell testified before the House Health & Services Committee, which was conducting a workshop on Medicaid reform using a managed care system. Joe noted that nursing home enrollment is not the reason for growth in the Medicaid budget. In fact, the Medicaid nursing home line item is down from 19 percent in 2001 to less than 15 percent in 2009. He provided demographics about long term care residents in Florida, pointing out that a recent OPPAGA study found that just over 1.3 percent of elibible nursing home residents could actually be safely transitioned out of faciities and into a home and community-based setting. Rep. Schenck (R-44), chairman of the committee, indicated that it would be several years before the phase-in of long term care and that there would be additional opportunities to provide input.

FHCA encourages its members to continue meeting with lawmakers before they head to Tallahassee in March. Consider inviting them into your facility for a tour, meet with them at their district office or attend your local legislative delegation meetings. Building those relationships now will add to the success of your experience at FHCA's 2011 Lobby Wednesdays, which begin February 9th and run through April 13th. For more information about Lobby Wednesdays, visit the FHCA website.

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