Escambia County News Politics

Escambia Sees Some Relief

July 17, 2012

After struggling through its budget session, Escambia County can now breathe a little lighter. The Florida Agency on Healthcare Administration has cut the amount the county owes on a decade’s worth of Medicaid claims.

Escambia County Administrator Randy Oliver said the Medicaid bill was reduced by “a little more than $4 million.” Originally, the county was looking at more than $8 million.

Escambia County was not the only county to receive a reduction in its bill—other counties, including Santa Rosa, also saw bills cut. Oliver said he did not know how the state calculated the reductions.

“We got the details from ACHA, but we don’t know what their methodology was—and that I’d like to know,” the administrator said, adding that the county received “35,000 lines of detail” from the state.

The reduction will mean that Escambia County will see about a $1.2 million savings during the next fiscal year, with about $700,000 worth of annual savings over the next four years.

Due to the reductions, Oliver said the county will be bringing five jobs back on line that had been trimmed out in the course of the budget sessions. Overall, he sounds optimistic about the county’s financial status.

“We’re in a position that most governments would envy—you had three cities in California declare bankruptcy,” Oliver said, adding that two Pennsylvania locales were also in dire straits—“Harrisburg is in receivership, Scranton reduced the salaries of all of their employees to minimum wage, which they immediately got sued over.”

Like other counties sweating out the state’s Medicaid bill, Escambia and Santa Rosa were both part of a multi-county lawsuit challenging the state. Somewhat relieved by the state’s recent reduction, Oliver’s just glad Escambia’s not Tampa.

“Tampa’s mayor wants to borrow $27 million to cover deficit,” he said. “Now, tell me that makes sense.”

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