Politicians in Florida have taken a lot of well-earned criticism for their decision to reject about $51 billion in Medicaid expansion money made available under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
You don't have to embrace "Obamacare" to understand that this is a political calculation that is dumb, short-sighted, and hurts as many as one million of the most vulnerable and powerless people in the state.
But it also won't save money. The demand for uncompensated care will continue and the cost will continue to be shifted to people with health insurance. Caregivers will eat the balance.
On other fronts, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a one-time CEO at Columbia/HCA, made headlines recently for his staunch opposition to a state-sponsored health insurance exchange and for actively hamstringing the federal exchanges that simply provide a venue for people to buy coverage from private sector plans. Again: dumb and short-sighted. Why would any elected leader hinder people from buying private healthcare coverage?
But it's not all gloomy news for healthcare in the Sunshine State. Gov. Scott has earmarked $20.6 million in state funds that when coupled with existing Medicaid funds, will provide $80 million in supplemental funding to create a Statewide Medicaid Residency Program.
Until now, GME funding in Florida was limited to a few hospitals and was provided as part of per diem payments to those providers with established residency programs. Now, the funding will be available for any hospital—urban, suburban, rural, large or small—that agrees to sponsor a residency program.
Liz Dudek, secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, said in prepared remarks that the program "will improve access to and quality of care for all Floridians, expand graduate medical education on an equitable basis, and increase the supply of highly trained physicians statewide."