By
Anne Swerlick
|
May 1, 2017

How Will Florida Use Its New Low Income Pool (LIP) Funding? Congressmen Raise Key Questions and Transparency Concerns with Federal Officials

This post was last updated on July 22, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.
On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

In a recent letter to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Congressmen Frank Pallone Jr. and Ron Wyden, ranking members of key Congressional committees overseeing the Medicaid program, raise major concerns about CMS’s sudden decision to keep funding Florida’s LIP program. As described in an earlier policy brief, Governor Scott and the Trump administration recently announced that Florida’s LIP program, providing supplemental funding primarily for hospitals, will continue.

Previously, the Obama administration notified Florida that federal funds for LIP would end June 30, 2017. A key rationale was that LIP funding should not pay for costs covered through Medicaid expansion. Florida continues to leave billions of federal dollars on the table, due to its refusal to expand Medicaid.

But now CMS has reversed course. Negotiations between the state and federal government about Florida’s LIP program have been shrouded in secrecy. To date, the specific terms and conditions for use of these funds are unknown, even to legislators.

Questions raised in the Congressmen’s letter include:

  • What is CMS’s rationale for continuing to fund LIP?
  • How will Florida distribute LIP funding?
  • How will CMS ensure that Florida spends these funds only on items or services authorized by federal law?
  • What related evaluations or audits will be done?

Notably, the letter specifically references and raises concerns about Governor Scott’s call to increase spending on infrastructure projects and tourism after the state received notification about new LIP funding.

These policy choices have consequential impacts on all Floridians, but particularly the health and economic security of more than 500,000 Floridians living in poverty who remain uninsured.

LIP deliberations and decisions at both the federal and state levels must be done in the sunshine. And Floridians must have the opportunity to weigh in before “the deal is done.”

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