Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Medicaid Cuts Could Impact FL Economic Recovery

TALLAHASSEE, FL - A report from the organization Families USA says that every federal Medicaid dollar that flows into Florida stimulates state business activity and generates jobs. Conversely, U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) says, cutting Medicaid funds, as proposed in the House Republican budget, not only hurts seniors, people with disabilities, and children, but it also would result in fewer jobs and could stunt the economic recovery.

"This GOP plan really will result in job losses, firings and layoffs."

The budget proposal adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, sponsored by Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), calls for cuts in federal funding to current state Medicaid programs of 5 percent in 2013, 15 percent in 2014, and 33 percent in 2021.

In the shadow of the federal Medicaid fight, Florida lawmakers have approved legislation to move Medicaid patients into private HMOs. Governor Rick Scott has signed the bill, but according to Representative Castor, the move requires approval from the Obama administration and raises serious questions, given recent reports.

"In my hometown of Tampa, the Wellcare HMO was found out and brought up on charges by the Justice Department because they were supposed to be providing health services to children under Medicaid. They weren't doing it; they were simply pocketing the money."

Florida opponents of privatizing Medicaid have filed suit in federal court, claiming the pilot project in five southern counties is fraught with fraud, and reports of inadequate patient care access.

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