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UPDATED County commissioner slams Miami-Dade legislative delegation for Jackson cuts; delegation chairman says cuts could have been worse

From the Miami-Dade County Commission dais Tuesday, Commissioner Sally Heyman lambasted lawmakers for what she said will be painful cuts to the Jackson Health System.

"I am really concerned that our Dade delegation over the year has targeted Dade County instead of supported Dade County," said Heyman, a former Democratic state representative. The Medicaid cuts proposed in Tallahassee, she added, amount to a $30 million to $40 million hit to Jackson, which is already laying off more than 1,000 workers.

Heyman particularly criticized state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the House Republican leader and delegation chairman, though she did not mention him by name.

"As majority leader and delegation chair, to allow this to go this far and keep hearing, 'In conference, we'll take care of it,' -- well, they haven't," Heyman said, imploring her colleagues and the public to call their legislators.

"Remind them of where they're coming back to," she said, "including some of them that are intending to run for county office when they finish this session" -- again alluding to the term-limited Lopez-Cantera, who is rumored to be thinking of running against county property appraiser Pedro Garcia.

Lopez-Cantera, for his part, characterized Heyman as misinformed. Under the budget deal legislative leaders put forth late Monday, Jackson would lose less than what Gov. Rick Scott had proposed before the annual lawmaking session, and less than the House and Senate proposed separately, he said.

And some of the cuts could be offset by a $15 million intergovernmental transfer of money to Jackson tucked in budget proviso language, and some additional research dollars for the health system, Lopez-Cantera added.

"I don't know where she got her information," Lopez-Cantera said. "I'm happy to talk with Commissioner Heyman anytime she wants to talk about the outcomes in the Legislature...Nobody from Jackson has called me to complain."

UPDATE: With the county commission meeting still going strong Tuesday evening, Heyman reiterated that the cut to Jackson will be between $30 million and $40 million and said the county and Jackson have been "boisterous" in their opposition. "The facts are right," she said.

Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya told commissioners he "applauded" Heyman's remarks Heyman for championing the health system. "We started off with a negative $250 million from the governor," Migoya said. "We're at $35 million right now. Are we happy? No."

He said Jackson's lobbyists are in daily and hourly contact with Miami-Dade lawmakers, including Lopez-Cantera. "I think they've done a great job, but it's still costing us $35 million," he said.

Later, Migoya told The Miami Herald: "I wanted everyone to know that the Dade delegation has been a champion for our behalf."

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