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Federal Funds May Not Offset State Cuts To Hospitals

Tampa General Hospital is one of several hospitals suing the Department of Health over its trauma center rule.
Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General Hospital is one of several hospitals suing the Department of Health over its trauma center rule.

The state budget includes deep cuts to hospitals that serve the poor and lawmakers are betting on federal money to help offset the losses.

But that federal money is not guaranteed, said Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association.

Lawmakers cut a total of $521 million from hospitals around the state during the budget process.

They made the cuts after the state learned that it could get up to $1.5 billion in federal money that helps hospitals pay for charity care -- known as Low Income Pool funding.

But Rueben said state and federal officials are still working out the details of how that money can be spent.

"The more we learn, the more it becomes clear that the low income pool may be able to partially mitigate these cuts but it's unlikely that it will be able to make such a difference that the cuts won't do some harm to access," Rueben said.

All of the federal low income pool funding would have to be matched by money from cities and counties.

Any cut in funding could force hospitals to cut back on services and refrain from hiring staff, which could affect access for everyone, Rueben said. 

"These cuts are going to have dramatic impact on hospitals' ability to provide access to care for these children, the disabled, the elderly, pregnant women -- all low-income people who are covered by the Medicaid program," Rueben said. 

The budget contains cuts for Tampa Bay area hospitals totaling $91.7 million.

St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa was cut by nearly $20 million. Lawmakers cut Tampa General Hospital by almost $18 million and Moffitt Cancer Center by nearly $7 million.   

In South Florida, the cuts to hospitals would total $160 million.

Miami-Dade’s Jackson Health System received a $32.5 million cut. Baptist Hospital of Miami saw a $15.3 million cut.

In Broward County, the four hospitals that make up Memorial Healthcare System were cut by a total of $26.5 million. The four hospitals in Broward Health were cut by $24.3 million. 

Copyright 2017 Health News Florida

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