The Senate budget committee agreed to phase in a new Medicaid billing system for counties over seven years instead of five. But that didn't stop county commissioners from across the state from speaking out against the legislation.
Senate Bill 1884 is headed for a floor vote but could see additional tweaks before then. Senators said the proposal may not be perfect right now, but it's their best attempt to create a new system to collect counties' share of Medicaid costs. Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, voiced concerns but still voted in favor of the bill.
"We need to tighten this up because a thousand dollars here, a million dollars there, makes a big difference in the lives of those who have to come up with it," she said. "We have much work to do before the floor."
Under the existing billing system, the one created just last year that sparked an uproar itself, counties pay according to actual services utilized by verified patients that live within their boundaries. Because the state is changing the way it pays hospitals for Medicaid, it also needs to change its billing system for counties.
Senate health care budget chief Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, vowed to continue working with counties on additional fixes.
The proposal requires counties to pay a share of the Medicaid costs proportionate to the percentage of Medicaid enrollees that reside there. But that is softened by the seven-year phase in, so that counties aren't paying solely a proportionate cost until 2020.
Indian River Commissioner Peter O'Bryan said his county's Medicaid costs would jump from the current five-year average of $666,000 a year to $2 million over the phase-in period.