As Gov. Rick Scott considered budget vetoes last week, some of the state’s best-known hospitals, including St. Mary’s Medical Center and Bethesda Memorial Hospital, feared he would slice $65 million that lawmakers had set aside to help the industry move to a new Medicaid payment system.
So hospital chief executives from across the state sent nearly identical letters to Scott that offered an assurance: If he approved the $65 million for the upcoming 2013-14 fiscal year, they wouldn’t come back next year and ask for similar money.
“Since these funds are intended to mitigate the costs of transition (to the new Medicaid payment system), I will request elimination of the recurring appropriation in the 2014-15 state fiscal year, if you approve the funding for the upcoming state fiscal year,” said a line that appeared repeatedly in the letters.
The assurances apparently worked. Scott decided against vetoing the money —- and even took note of the hospitals’ pledges in a letter Monday that his budget decisions.
“Because the new payment system will encompass virtually all hospitals and inpatient services, and because it will mark Florida’s first large-scale experience with prospective payment in Medicaid, I do hereby approve of the $65 million in transitional payments to further assist with the implementation of this important reform,” Scott’s letter said. “In addition, we have received commitments from the recipient hospitals that they will not request or accept these funds for the 2014-15 state fiscal year to ensure that the transitional payments are truly transitional.”
At least 16 hospital and health-system executives sent letters to Scott giving the assurances, according to copies released by the governor’s office.
The hospitals and health systems included prominent industry players such as Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County; Broward Health and Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County; St. Mary’s Medical Center and Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Palm Beach County; Orlando Health; Tampa General Hospital; and the Gainesville-based Shands HealthCare.
Scott, however, did veto a separate $3.6 million Medicaid allocation for Bethesda.