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Gov. Scott Sues Feds Over LIP Program

Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Florida Governor Rick Scott , flgov.com

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott announced that he plans to “take legal action against Obama” for refusing to commit to give Florida $1.3 billion to fund the state’s Low Income Pool program, which helps hospitals cover the cost of paying for uninsured patients who show up in droves in emergency rooms because they don’t have access to traditional healthcare services.

The LIP program, adopted in 2006 by the Bush/Cheney administration, subsidizes hospitals for caring for the uninsured. But that’s the whole point of the Affordable Care Act: If we give people access to health insurance, they won’t be using the costly emergency rooms for routine care. As a result, the feds have planned to eliminate the Low Income Pool and despite the Scott administration’s feigned surprise, that’s old news – last year the federal government agreed to give Florida one more year of LIP funding, on the condition that the state work up some solutions to make ends meet without. Instead, Scott has opted to sue. “It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal healthcare dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into Obamacare,” he said in his announcement last week. What he fails to acknowledge, though, is that the Low Income Pool was never a guaranteed funding source – it was always a conditional, discretionary fund that had to be renewed every several years. Funding for Medicaid, however, is guaranteed by law, is not conditional and will not expire. So why not just get on the Medicaid-expansion train, which has a guaranteed funding source?

That’s not entirely clear – even some members of the Florida Senate are trying to work out a plan. Meanwhile, the Scott administration is tilting at windmills.