Area lawmakers need to derail a legislative scheme to swipe money that should fund medical care for the area’s poor.
The plan represents an outrageous abuse of the counties that have been proactive in addressing the poor’s health care needs. It would reward communities that have neglected their fiscal responsibilities.
Under current law a local government can send local tax dollars used for health care to the state government in order to increase Florida’s Medicaid match.
In the past, state officials have sent the additional federal funds made possible by the local contribution — along with the local tax dollars — back to the donor county. But last session the state Legislature sought to divert the extra federal dollars made possible by the local taxes to a statewide pool.
Thanks to House Speaker Will Weatherford, the amount diverted was reduced to 10 percent. But the Legislature plans to move forward next year with a full diversion, which would cut funding for counties that help pay for the poor’s medical treatment.
Baycare, which operates 11 hospitals in the Tampa Bay area, estimates Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties now send $66.8 million in local taxes to Tallahassee for the federal match, which brings back another $95.4 million in federal funds to the three counties.
Under the Legislature’s plan, the state would only return the $66.8 million plus interest. The bulk of the $95.4 million would be distributed around the state. Communities that made the additional dollars possible would have no say.
Our area legislative delegations should resolve to block this money grab.