Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shands Will See Boost in U.S. Aid $18 Million OK'd for Medicaid

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shands Will See Boost in U.S. Aid $18 Million OK'd for Medicaid

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Skidmore, Times-Union staff writer

Shands Jacksonville will receive an approximate $18 million reprieve from its financial woes, according to Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday of its plans to provide an additional $200 million to $250 million in payments to Florida hospitals for Medicaid services. The payments represent the first three-quarters of the year's funding many Florida hospitals have been waiting on since the Legislature approved increased funding last year.

Legislatures can request federal matching money for Medicaid, a state health coverage program. The matching amount is permitted up to the amount that would be paid to hospitals for the same services under the federal health coverage plan, Medicare.

State lawmakers approved an increase the Medicaid funding last year. Hospitals that receive the funding have been waiting for payment to no avail.

Because legislators drastically changed the Medicaid program structure, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had to approve the state's plan before the increase could move forward. However, CMS did not approve the change until yesterday, and hospitals feared they would never see the funds they expected and budgeted for.

CMS is implementing a nationwide change to federal matching funds that will slash the matching funds by one-third beginning next month. If the approval did not take place soon, many of Florida's hospitals, such as Shands, would take multimillion-dollar hits for money they were promised.

Shands was still in the process of reviewing the information yesterday.

"We are appreciative of this support and will be reviewing the impact of this plan on our budget for this fiscal year," said Jane Ziebarth, spokeswoman for Shands.

Bush, in Washington for the national governors conference, was meeting with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson regarding Florida's health care issues yesterday when he found out the news. …

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