Florida plans on tapping into $945 million in additional federal health-care dollars made available by President Joe Biden’s administration to enhance access to home- and community-based health-care services for poor, disabled and elderly people, a top Republican in charge of health-care spending in the state told The News Service of Florida Monday.
State Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is poised to send a proposal to the federal government that would allow the state to draw down a 10 percentage-point increase in federal Medicaid funds. The increased federal funds were included in the American Rescue Plan Act, a stimulus package signed by Biden in March. If the state’s plan is approved, Florida would draw down roughly $945 million more for Medicaid services over the next two years, Bean said.
Lawmakers were aware of the availability of the additional Medicaid funds for home- and community-based services during the legislative session that ended April 30, as they were crafting the budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year that began July 1. Lawmakers did not include the additional money in the record-high $100 billion budget, however.
If the federal government agrees to Florida’s proposal, the Agency for Health Care Administration will submit a budget amendment to the Legislative Budget Commission, Bean said. The 14-member commission needs to sign off on the deal in order for the state to spend the money, he said. The commission, composed of seven House members and seven senators, is empowered to make spending decisions on behalf of the 160-member Florida Legislature.
AHCA deputy chief of staff Tiffany Vause told the News Service on Monday that a copy of the plan was not available because the agency had not finalized it yet.
Bean, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, said he was briefed on the state’s plan last week. While Congress agreed to increase the funding for home- and community-based services for a three-year period, Bean said the state is taking a more cautious approach with a plan to tap into two years of funding. “Some of the most expensive money out there is ‘free’ money from the federal government,” Bean said.