State lawmakers cost Sacred Heart $9 million

May 5, 2011

Press Release: Negotiators for the Florida House and Senate finalized their cuts to the state’s healthcare budget Tuesday and agreed to make major reductions in funding of the Medicaid program.

Hospitals, especially those that provide the most care to poor and low-income families, will take the biggest hit with long term care facilities close behind. Legislators approved a 12 percent cut in the rates that the state pays hospitals. Long term facilities will be paid 6.5 percent less by the state for care provided to Medicaid patients.

For Sacred Heart Health System, whose services include the region’s only Children’s and Women’s Hospital, the cuts will mean a reduction in revenue of approximately $9 million. That comes on top of smaller reductions in recent years. Medicaid reimbursement is already so low that its payments do not cover Sacred Heart’s actual costs of providing care.

“These are very significant decreases – larger than any cut we have faced in the past,” said Laura Kaiser, president and CEO of Sacred Heart Health System. “We will carefully decide where we will have to modify or reduce services to offset the loss of funding.”

”The Legislature’s cuts in Medicaid funding will have the greatest impact on hospitals such as Sacred Heart that provide the greatest amount of healthcare to the poor and vulnerable in our community,” Kaiser said. “However, I do want to commend and thank the Legislature for their decision to continue vital funding for the Meds Aged and Disabled program and the Medically Needy program, which subsidizes medical care for patients who are seriously ill but don’t qualify for Medicaid.” In the earlier version of the budget, both of those programs had been on the chopping block under the Senate’s budget plan.

Sacred Heart provides a number of key health care services in the community and the Medicaid cuts will impact payment for thousands of children, low-income women and seniors who qualify for Medicaid. With more than 4,500 employees, Sacred Heart Health System serves as an important economic engine through its leading healthcare providers and facilities located throughout Escambia County, Walton County and Gulf County.

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