Lawmakers this week released the additional payments some hospitals will receive in next year's state budget, and it was good news for Manatee Memorial Hospital but not for others in the area.
The plan, released late Monday, is among the most anxiously awaited parts of the state health care budget, as it includes more than $1 billion in supplemental money for hospitals.
Across the board, hospitals took hits owing to a $400 million reduction in the Low Income Pool, a pot of state and federal money that pays for uncompensated charity care. Among the hardest hit by the drop in LIP: the state's safety net hospitals, which include public hospitals, specialty children's hospitals and teaching hospitals.
"We weren't given a lot of latitude," said state Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, the House health budget chairman. "At the end of the day, there's going to be winners and losers."
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Manatee Memorial Hospital was one of the winners, with funds increasing from $6.7 million in the 2015-16 budget to about $13.2 million for 2016-17.
Sarasota Memorial followed the majority and took a hit from $15.3 million in the current fiscal year to $10.6 million.
Blake Medical Center also decreased from $917,800 to $62,000.
A contract with the county has Manatee Memorial receiving $3.525 million for the indigent care fund between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30. That was a $1.2 million decrease from the previous year.
Blake Medical is receiving $500,000 for indigent care, down from $670,000 the previous year.
Ellen Simon, a spokeswoman for Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida projected Sarasota Memorial would only see a $477,000 loss in the coming year, since LIP payments would be offset by $1.9 million in new payments to care for pediatric and neonatal patients. She said they couldn't provide more information at this time.
Vernon DeSear, a spokesman for Manatee Memorial Hospital, said the $13.2 million represents a return to their normal level of LIP funding after funds were cut last year.
"We had no idea this was coming," DeSear said.
Kevin DiLallo, CEO of Manatee Memorial, said he believes Manatee Memorial received additional funding because it qualified as one of six hospitals under Tier Two requirements. Tier Two hospitals provide charity care that represents between 5.4 percent and 6.2 percent of their total commercial charges, and are reimbursed up to 67 percent of charity care costs.
"Basically because we do so much charity care," DiLallo said.
DiLallo said while any additional funding from the state to the community is going to help, he isn't sure if the funds will be recurring and it could return to a lower amount next year.
"We struggle with it when it's taken away," DiLallo said. "We're always worried about cuts."
Lawmakers say their hands were tied by the federal government decision to cut LIP. And while they tried to shore up some hospitals using other programs, as well as a $75 million budget item for children's hospitals, local facilities are still likely to be hurt.
"We're working in an environment where we have $400 million less and next year we might not have anything," said state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, the Senate health care budget chairman. "This was the best we could do with the federal guidelines."
Under the plan, there are four tiers for LIP, with the hospitals that see the most charity patients receiving larger sums of money. Lawmakers were able to ensure the hospitals whose communities contribute the most tax dollars to the LIP program would receive the investment back at the minimum.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter@KateIrby