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Pensacola Hospitals To Benefit From State Funding

Baptist Medical Group

Two non-profit hospitals in Pensacola will be major beneficiaries in the Florida Legislature’s plan to fill a $1.2 billion hole in the federal Low Income Pool program.

The $400 million in state money taking up part of the slack is aimed at attracting other federal funds for two purposes: to offset the federal LIP decrease, and raise Medicaid payments for all hospitals in the state.

“Hospitals were concerned about going backwards, with potential elimination of the funds from both CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] and as well from the state,” said Mark Faulkner, President and CEO of Baptist Healthcare, whose funding goes from $7.7 million to almost $11 million.

Prior to the agreement, Baptist had been bracing for up to $7 million in budget cuts for the new fiscal year.

“We were evaluating some reductions in services, some other cost-containment measures that mainly had to do with the elimination of services specifically that would have been caught up in this year’s budget cycle,” Faulkner said. “Fortunately, we’re early enough in our fiscal year planning, which starts October 1, to be able to avert drastic measures.”

Sacred Heart Health System’s share is increasing from almost $20 million in the just-ended fiscal year, to just over $28 million in the new spending plan. Susan Davis is the system’s President and CEO, and says that’s a far cry from just a month ago, when they were looking at a $24 million cut in programs and services.

As far as the additional eight million dollars coming to Sacred Heart, Davis says she’ll have no problem finding uses for it, to offset losses.

“In our oncology program or medical group in care for patients that have no insurance, or are under-insured,” Davis said. “We have a $64 million in uncompensated care that we provide.”

Some Florida hospitals are losing money under the new formula. State payments for Bay Medical Center in Panama City would slide from about 13 million dollars to just under ten million. And Davis cautions that the windfall they’re seeing this fiscal year, may not be there in the next.

“The bad news is about this LIP funding, is [that] it’s one year,” Davis said. “We will not be in the same place next year as we are this year. That $28 million is all at risk again next year.”

Meanwhile, a panel formed by Gov. Rick Scott to examine health care finances continues to hold meetings around Florida. Scott has indicated he wants the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to come up with future modifications.