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County Medicaid Costs to Rise

March 19th, 2012 by Mike Vasilinda

County governments in Florida stand to spend an additional $155 million taking care of Medicaid patients in Florida hospitals under legislation approved by state lawmakers this year. That’s why, as Mike Vasilinda reports, county governments are asking Governor Rick Scott to veto the legislation.

Florida counties pay a portion of lengthy hospital stays and nursing home care for low income people receiving Medicaid.

Legislation approved in the just concluded 2012 session would change how the state bills the counties. The counties have written Governor Rick Scott, asking for a veto They say they are not being allowed to challenge billing errors. In their letter they say it is like not allowing their taxpayers to question errors in a credit card bill.

It’s common sense that we review our bills before we pay them,” Cragin Mosteller, with the Florida Association of Counties said. “It’s common sense that we have the chance to challenge anything that’s incorrect. But unfortunately, with this new bill, counties won’t have the chance to do that, which means the taxpayers foot the bill.”

Statewide, the cost shift to local taxpayers could be as much as 155 million dollars a year.

The counties say the bills are rife with errors, including being billed for out-of-state patients and even being billed for the same patient 15 times.

But Lawmakers pushing the change want counties to pay up first and argue later.

There were some billings that were questioned, so we provided a 15 percent discount, so counties only have to pay 85 percent,” Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) said.

Some of the billing disputes go back at least four years, to the time the current billing system was implemented.

Florida is one of the few states in the nation to shift Medicaid costs to local governments.

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