State Politics

Florida Senate budget calls for more local funding, less state money for hospitals

Hospitals shouldn’t rely so heavily on state revenue to boost the amount of money they drawn down from the federal government for Medicaid, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said Wednesday.

“We don’t have the general revenue to keep subsidizing, artificially, hospital rates,” he said.

Negron’s budget proposal would slash general revenue spending on Medicaid by $218.7 million. Instead, the burden would shift to local governments and taxing authorities, he said.

Another controversial cut is an $86.5 million reduction for adult mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. By contrast, both Gov. Rick Scott’s and the House’s budget proposals increase funding in these areas to restore cuts made last year.

Negron asked the Department of Children and Families to rank all of the adult treatment programs that receive state funding. His plan calls for eliminating the worst ranked and moving up the list until the desired savings are reached.

However, the two Democrats on the panel, Sen. Nan Rich of Weston and Sen. Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood, said they want to know more about the DCF's methodology and whether programs are being compared to others that serve similar populations. The DCF report separated programs by geographic region.

As chairman of the Senate’s Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations, Negron unveiled his $7.5 billion general fund spending proposal during Wednesday’s meeting. The subcommittee will continue discussing the budget Thursday morning.