State Capital Briefs (Lunch Edition): Friday, April 28
The News Service of Florida
HOUSE APPROVES TRAUMA SYSTEM CHANGES With little discussion, the House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would change criteria for approval of new trauma centers in the state. The House voted 93-24 to support the measure, sponsored by Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City. Hospitals and the Florida Department of Health in recent years have repeatedly tangled in legal battles about whether new trauma centers should be allowed to open. The current system limits the number of trauma centers statewide to 44 and also includes limits in 19 different regional "trauma service areas." Under the bill, trauma service areas with populations of more than 1.25 million people would be determined to have a need for a minimum of two trauma centers. A trauma service area with a population of more than 2.5 million --- currently only an area made up of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties --- would be determined to have a need for a minimum of four trauma centers. In part, the bill would help ensure that a disputed trauma center at Orange Park Medical Center in Clay County could continue operating. With one week left in the legislative session, the Senate has not taken up the issue.
HOSPITAL MEDICAID CUTS EXPECTED TO TOP $650 MILLION House and Senate negotiators have agreed to reduce Medicaid hospital rates by about $651 million, though details of the structure of the cuts still need to be finalized. A House proposal during a conference committee meeting Friday morning included $250 million in cuts in state general revenue for hospitals. Cutting state general revenue also leads to lost federal matching funds, bringing the total to about $651 million. The Senate also had proposed a $250 million general-revenue cut Thursday. The budget proposals do not account for money that hospitals are expected to receive through the Low Income Pool program. Gov. Rick Scott recently announced that $1.5 billion would be available through the so-called LIP program, which sends additional money to hospitals that care for large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. But state and federal health officials continue to negotiate how the money could be used.