Judge nixes mediation in Gov. Scott 'LIP' lawsuit


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal judge Wednesday rejected a request by Gov. Rick Scott for mediation in a legal battle between the state and federal government about health-care funding.

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers issued an order that said she has already scheduled a hearing next week on a Scott motion for a preliminary injunction in the case.

"The hearing is scheduled for June 19, 2015, and will require extensive preparation on the part of all parties,'' Rodgers wrote. "Requiring them, on even shorter notice, to also attend court-ordered mediation, which is not guaranteed to result in any resolution of this case, would be unduly burdensome, expensive, and not likely to advance the process any faster than the expedited proceeding currently scheduled."

Scott filed the lawsuit in April, contending that the Obama administration was trying to unconstitutionally link continuation of the state's Low Income Pool health-funding program with expansion of Medicaid.

The federal government has called those arguments "baseless" and has indicated that the state will receive about $1 billion in Low Income Pool funding for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

While the $1 billion is a reduction from the current year's funding for the so-called LIP program, state lawmakers are using that number as they negotiate a budget during an ongoing special session.

In Wednesday's order, Rodgers pointed to a short time frame with the July 1 start of the fiscal year. She also said she will hold a full hearing June 19 on Scott's preliminary-injunction request, including hearing live testimony.

"The court needs to have a thorough understanding of the LIP extension or amendment process and the history of the negotiations between the parties in order to resolve the questions raised,'' she wrote.