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Florida Gov. Rick Scott, federal government in Medicaid standstill

Scott's meeting with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell ends with no resolution

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) ended his visit to the District of Columbia without a resolution to his proposal to use $1 billion in federal funding for hospitals that treat the uninsured, Kaiser Health News reported.

Scott wants the funding for the Low Income Pool (LIP)--which is set to expire June 30--while Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told Scott they'd rather the funding be used to expand Medicaid. Burwell argued that it's more cost-efficient to provide low-income residents with insurance than to retroactively dish out money for hospitals to tend to the uninsured, noted the Associated Press.

After the meeting, Burwell reiterated that "whether a state receives federal funding for an uncompensated care pool is not dependent on whether it expands Medicaid, and that the decision to expand Medicaid, or not, is a state decision," noted KHN. Now, the question at hand is whether some funding might still be available for the LIP even if the state does not expand Medicaid.

Scott asked Burwell how much money the federal government plans to provide, if any. "I told her that we need federal action right now. The low-income families in our state cannot wait on the federal government any longer," Scott said, according to the AP.

However, Burwell told Scott he may have to hold tight. Currently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is toward the end of a 30-day comment period regarding ongoing discussions with states' budget proposals, KHN pointed out.

But expanding Medicaid would only help Florida. The federal government noted that states get less money by not expanding Medicaid, noted the AP, as the Obama administration will not pay for coverage for low-income individuals that otherwise would be covered in a Medicaid expansion.

This week's meeting comes amid Scott's latest threat to sue the federal government, claiming its refusal to continue providing funds to hospitals to treat low-income patients is a pressure tactic to get the state to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

For more:
- here's the KHN story
- read the Associated Press piece

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