Scott includes funds for healthcare for poor and uninsured in his budget

The “Low Income Pool” program, known as the LIP program, is the safety healthcare safety net for the poor, providing $1 billion a year to hospitals and other providers that care for large numbers of low-income and uninsured patients. As I’ve reported last year, LIP is scheduled to expire June 30, unless the federal government approves an extension.

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed 2015-16 budget includes funding for LIP, which many hospitals say is crucial to caring for poor and uninsured patients. Locally Sacred Heart, Baptist and Santa Rosa Medical Center depend on LIP to help them care for the uninsured.

The impact on hospitals in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties is over $9.38 million annually when LIP ends. Sacred Heart will lose $5,268,219, Baptist Hospital $531,469 and Santa Rosa Medical $3,582,202. The LIP program is supposed to be offset by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the Florida Legislature has yet to agree to expand the eligibility criteria for Medicaid and accept funding allocated under ACA for covering the expanded population of low-income adults.

The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, which represents public hospitals, teaching hospitals and children’s hospitals, issued a statement Thursday commending Scott for building LIP money into his proposed budget.

“With Governor Scott leading negotiations with the federal government, we are confident this $2 billion safety-net program will be protected and the governor will advocate for enhancements to the program that are more in parity with what other large states receive today,” Tony Carvalho, the group’s president, said in the statement.

–The News Source of Florida contributed to his article.