With the battle over President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion “Build Back Better” legislation now heading to the U.S. Senate, Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–are insisting it will impact state Medicaid programs and hurt hospitals in the Sunshine State.
Both Rubio and Scott signed onto a letter that U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “demanding answers on the Biden administration’s blatant attack on the Medicaid programs in Tennessee, Texas, and Florida” and wanting the CBO to “disclose the impact President Joe Biden’s massive tax and spending bill will have on state Medicaid programs that support safety net hospitals, children’s hospitals, rural hospitals, and other Medicaid providers that care for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured beneficiaries” since the “Build Back Better Act includes a provision that would penalize states, such as Florida, by cutting millions in federal funding for Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments and Uncompensated Care Pools (UCP) funding.”
“In the Build Back Broke bill, Democrats have prioritized blue-state billionaires over sick children, people with disabilities, and the poor,” said Blackburn. “The sweeping federal overreach pushed by the Biden administration is a direct attempt to punish states like Tennessee providing personalized care for our vulnerable communities. The White House preaches the importance of empathy but is willing to strip care from Tennesseans to give their big-dollar donors tax breaks.”
“The Build Back Socialist bill is going to hurt Florida hospitals, especially those that treat low-income residents and the uninsured,” Rubio said. “It is reckless and irresponsible to cut the health care of some of our most vulnerable, including children, to pay for tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers in New York and California.”
“Not only does Biden and Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar tax-and-spending spree package include huge SALT tax breaks for Democrats’ rich blue-state donors while raising taxes on American families and further fuel our nation’s inflation crisis – it also harshly punishes charity hospitals that provide care to those most in need. Buried deep within this massive proposal are devastating and vindictive cuts slashing 12.5 percent from Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments and reducing payments from states’ Uncompensated Care Pool programs, including my state of Florida, which means less funding for hospitals who care for low-income patients and those who are underserved and uninsured. That’s unacceptable. The American people and every member of Congress deserve to know the truth: this bill is horrible for American families and must be stopped,” said Scott.
“Thank you for your work to produce budgetary and economic analysis of the proposed legislation, the Build Back Better Act,” the senators wrote the CBO. “While the final text of the bill is not available at the time of this letter, we write today to ask for additional economic analysis of the legislation, specifically a section of the Energy & Commerce title which changes Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment allotments as well as funding for Uncompensated Care Pools. This legislation would significantly affect states’ safety net programs and it is essential that each member of Congress have complete and full understanding of such a provision. In order to provide accurate information to our constituents who would be impacted by these punitive measures, we request your answers to the following questions:
“1) What is the impact of this legislation on state budgets?
2) How would the DSH and Uncompensated Care Pool penalties impact coverage in the affected states?
3) What is the impact of this legislation to access to care, including closures, at safety net hospitals, children’s hospitals, and rural hospitals?
4) Does CBO believe that some individuals will have to go without care because of these DSH and Uncompensated Care Pool penalties?” the senators asked.
Democrats from the Sunshine State continue to champion the proposal.
“The House voted to invest in America’s future—to build a stronger, better, more resilient nation for the next generation. We voted to lower health care costs and expand access to pre-K, to fight inflation and support working families, and to combat climate change and increase our resiliency against its most devastating impacts. We voted to compete in a 21st century global economy and restore American leadership on the world stage. And we voted to put our nation’s economy in a more secure position as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., after voting for it.
“The benefits to the state of Florida are profound: providing access to child care to over 1 million young children in Florida (ages 0-5) per year and expanding access to free, high-quality preschool to more than 347,000 additional 3- and 4-year-olds per year; closing the Medicaid coverage gap, allowing nearly 800,000 uninsured Floridians to gain access to healthcare coverage; expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, giving over 1.3 million low-wage workers in Florida a tax cut; and investing in steps to meet our climate targets, helping our communities in Florida that are at highest risk for devastating climate change impacts avoid costly damage and destruction,” Deutch added. “And the benefits to our nation are clear. I urge the Senate to quickly come together to send this monumental piece of legislation to the president’s desk. We cannot wait any longer—it is time to act now.”
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