Gov. Rick Scott in Washington to deal with health care funding


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott will meet with federal officials over funding for hospitals known as the Low Income Pool, or LIP funding.

Federal officials have said they will not send more than $1 billion to Florida unless the state agrees to increase Medicaid options for the working poor. It has prompted Attorney General Pam Bondi to file a lawsuit alleging cohesion.

"Because we've had it for nearly a decade, and they said in writing that they would take it away if we did not expand Medicaid. If that's not coercion, I don't know what is," Bondi said.

The money in question is used to reimburse hospitals that treat people who can't pay.

What's unusual here is that the LIP funding is voluntary. The state doesn't have to take it, the federal government doesn't have to offer it.

On Tuesday, Scott left for Washington to meet with federal officials to convince them to keep the money flowing.

"Today my goal is just focus again, hoping to reconsider," Scott said. "The reason I'm doing this is that we've got to get a budget done."

The battle for increased health care funding has created a civil war in the Florida Legislature. It led to last week's premature adjournment that the Supreme Court has said was unconstitutional. The Senate wants to take federal money to expand health care. The House doesn't. Scott is again siding with the House.

"There's no support in the House," Scott said. "I'm not going to support it, it's not a program that has worked."

While in Washington, Scott said he will float the idea of a block grant, or lump sum of money to provide care on the state's terms.

Scott also issued an executive order creating a yet-to-be-named commission to study hospital profits.