September 13, 2017

Pennisi: LIP penny vs. Medicaid dollars [Herald-Tribune]

This post was last updated on December 8, 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.

There’s good news and bad news for Florida in the federal government’s recent decision to approve more dollars for Florida’s uncompensated care pool, known as the Low Income Pool or LIP.

Gov. Rick Scott is to be commended for utilizing his relationship with the administration in Washington to bring this funding to Florida.

But while the additional dollars for the pool will help, they do nothing to move the needle on Florida’s access to health coverage. In other words, LIP dollars won’t insure a single Floridian.

There are 2.6 million Floridians, or 13.3 percent of the state’s residents, who do not have health insurance, and Florida ranks a disappointing 45th in the nation for its rate of residents with coverage. The uninsured have less access to medical care, poorer quality of care, worse health and an increased risk of premature death.

There is no question that increased LIP funding is a welcome relief for hospitals and other health care providers, who shoulder the burden of more Medicaid cuts and billions in unpaid medical debt.

But all of this ignores the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Florida’s failure to tap into a much bigger pot of federal Medicaid dollars to insure more than 500,000 low-income state residents.


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