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Florida Legislature to take health care under knife again - News4Jax.com

January 6, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

By now, it's a familiar scene: As Florida lawmakers deal with a budget shortfall, hospitals, nursing homes and other health providers scramble to fend off --- or brace for --- funding cuts.

The 2012 legislative session will be no different.

Already, Gov. Rick Scott has proposed deep cuts in Medicaid payments to hospitals, as he tries to free up money to boost spending on public schools. And while it's too early to know whether lawmakers will go along with Scott's proposal, they are almost certain to make cuts in health and human-services programs.

Hospitals, nursing homes and numerous other programs say they have been hammered by cuts during the past few years. The debate during the session, which starts Tuesday, will focus on where further cuts will be made --- and by how much.

"Nursing homes have been hit with a tsunami of funding cuts to our Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements over the past six months,'' Emmett Reed, executive director of the Florida Health Care Association, said this week in a document outlining the nursing-home group's session priorities. "If we see more cuts this session, many facilities will have to make difficult decisions which could restrict further access to care; our state's seniors deserve better.''

The budget likely will be the biggest health and human-services issue during the 2012 session. But lawmakers and industry groups also are preparing for debates about other high-profile issues, such as revamping the personal-injury protection auto insurance system and shielding doctors from medical-malpractice lawsuits.

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