April 25th, 2015 RSA Report

Special Report

Late yesterday (Friday – 4/25) The House and Senate continued the conversation regarding positions on the budget.

House Rejects Senate Counteroffer and Offers House Offer #2

The House rejected the Senate’s counteroffer to the House’s initial budget proposal and made a second counteroffer. Speaker Steve Crisafulli said that the Senate offer is predicated on receiving guidance from CMS regarding LIP funding and most importantly the passage of FHIX, which is the Senate’s proposal to expand Medicaid. The House is holding steadfast in their resistance to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid. The House counteroffer asks the Senate to recede from the plans to expand Medicaid as a condition of passing a balanced budget. The House has also offered $600 million in General Revenue in contingency funds to address the potential loss of LIP.

In addition, the House doesn’t believe that an extended session is necessary to complete the budget process and believes they can begin budget negotiations this weekend.

To read the House’s second offer click here.

Senate Response to House Offer #2

In response to the House’s second offer, Senate President Andy Gardner released a statement, saying “Short-term costs are less important than long-term cost effectiveness when the resolution of critical health care issues impacts every Floridian.” He reiterated the importance of approving the Senate’s plan (called the Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange Program or “FHIX”), which is estimated to generate more than enough savings to cover any state costs.

Even with the over $600 million in contingency funding originally offered by the Senate, they cannot accept the proposal since they do not believe it will completely mitigate the harm caused by the loss of LIP. The Senate is not willing to rush to a resolution that could potentially damage the state economy.

The Senate still intends to submit a letter to CMS seeking a preliminary response on Florida’s application to extend the Low Income Pool, as well as the potential for approval of the Senate’s market-based approach to expanded health care coverage. While they await a response, the Senate strongly advocated for a responsible budget that sets aside sufficient funds to address unknown health care costs.