Making Florida First for Healthy Families

This year, Governor Scott is investing in initiatives that will empower patients to fight against price gouging at Florida’s hospitals, protect Florida’s at-risk children, support Floridians with developmental disabilities and address the fragmented method that Florida funds mental health. Governor Scott knows that protecting Florida’s most vulnerable populations begins with healthy families, and the investments in the Florida First budget work to ensure each family has a better chance of living a safe and healthy life in their community.

Empowering Patients through Healthcare Transparency at Florida Hospitals – Healthy FamilyThe Florida First budget includes $5 million in funding at the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) for the development of an All-Payer Claims Database. This database will give AHCA the necessary tools to post pricing information that will give patients access to data to help fight against unfair pricing at Florida hospitals. This funding will also support reforms Governor Scott is pursuing in the upcoming Legislative session to empower patients and increase price transparency at Florida’s hospitals, including:

  • Requiring hospitals to post their prices and average payments, along with their annual IRS reports, in an easily accessible location on their website; and
  • Creating additional protections for Florida patients by allowing the referral of any suspected hospital price gouging to the appropriate law enforcement agency or regulatory authority.

Last year, Florida hospitals made record profits of $4.3 billion, an increase of more than $1 billion over the previous year. Therefore, the Florida First budget slows hospital rate inflation by eliminating an automatic increase in Medicaid hospital rates. This will save taxpayers $82.6 million annually. The Florida First budget reduces arbitrary add-on payments to hospital rates, saving taxpayers $202.3 million.These add-on payments would have increased payments to hospitals that made record profits last year.

Low Income Pool Model – The Florida First budget provides a Low Income Pool (LIP) model where funds will compensate indigent care at the federally imposed level of $608 million. To minimize the impact of the new federal LIP policies, the budget provides a revised Disproportionate Share Hospital funding model with funds to safety net hospitals determined by their levels of Medicaid inpatient care and graduate medical education training.

Supporting and Protecting Children –Over the last two years, the Governor has made critical investments to keep kids safe, including $16 million in core services funding for Community Based Care agencies in 2015, and funding for an additional 270 child protective investigators in 2014. The Florida First budget continues the Governor’s commitment to protect and support children across the state by investing an additional $22.9 million to hire 272 additional case managers to increase the availability of safety services for at risk children. This will also increase availability of safety services for families whose children are at risk of being removed from their home. The Florida First budget also invests $6.7 million to support the adoption of children with special needs.

As a father and a grandfather, Governor Scott takes the safety of Florida’s children very seriously. Governor Scott understands that the state has to do everything possible to protect victims of child abuse and neglect and the Florida First budget makes investments to better coordinate care across the state and give child welfare workers the necessary tools to work toward stopping child abuse. While the state has made significant steps forward in combatting abuse, Governor Scott firmly believes that one victim of child abuse is one too many.

The Florida First budget increases funding to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by $107 million. DCF’s total funding in the Florida First budget is $3 billion.

Helping Floridians Affected by Mental Illness and Substance Abuse – The Florida First budget invests over $19 million in additional funding to better coordinate and enhance mental health and substance abuse services at DCF. This funding will work side-by-side with the pilot projects DCF is conducting in Broward, Alachua and Pinellas Counties. By investing in front end services that support individuals in their communities instead of state-run facilities, this funding is fundamental to the efforts outlined in Governor Scott’s executive order. The funding includes:

  • $12.8 million for Community Behavioral Health Services;
  • $3.7 million to add more Community Action Treatment (CAT) teams; and
  • $2.8 million to expand Family Intensive Treatment (FIT) teams.

Currently, mental health funding in the state budget comes from multiple state agencies, local organizations and non-governmental entities. Governor Scott wants to better coordinate these organizations to ensure the entire taxpayer funded system is working together to help patients get the care they need in their own communities, instead of in state run institutions. To address this funding fragmentation, Governor Scott signed Executive Order 15-175 in September to better coordinate and enhance mental health services in Florida and established pilot programs in Broward, Alachua and Pinellas counties. These pilots will allow the state to do a countywide inventories of all programs available across state agencies that address mental health needs and help better coordinate care across the state.

Historic Investments to Help Individuals with Disabilities – The Florida First budget invests $10 million to reinstate funding for the Adults with Disabilities program to serve 12,000 Floridians annually. . During the 2015-2016 legislative session, funding was eliminated for the program. The program provides opportunities for adults with disabilities and senior citizens to enhance their vocational and employment skills consistent with their abilities and needs.

For the first time in Florida’s history, the Florida First budget invests a total of $1 billion to enroll all individuals with critical needs from the waiting list onto the Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Approximately 700 additional Floridians will be placed into the waiver program with this investment. This is the third consecutive year that Governor Scott has provided funding to enroll all individuals with critical needs to help them live, learn and work in their communities.

The Florida First budget continues to provide $1 million to help individuals with developmental disabilities obtain and maintain jobs and internships. Since the inception of this program, nearly 1000 Floridians have been served by this program.

Expanding Graduate Medical Education – The Florida First budget invests an additional $26.6 million in the Statewide Medicaid Residency Program for a total of more than $100 million for the first time in the program’s history. This program has already created an additional 477 slots and 16 new teaching hospitals in just its first two years.

Healthy Families – $28.4 million is included in the Florida First budget to expand Healthy Families Florida statewide, an increase of $1.9 million over last year’s funding. This evidence-based, nationally accredited program provides in-home visits to further protect Florida’s most vulnerable children.

Guardian Ad Litem –The Florida First budget provides over $1 million to continue Governor Scott’s commitment to ensure that 100 percent of dependent children in out-of-home care are represented by a guardian ad litem. This funding will be used to hire 19 additional fulltime staff that will serve approximately 2,000 youth in need.

Caring for Seniors – The Florida First budget includes $1.7 million in new funding to enroll 150 additional individuals onto the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative Program, and another $2 million to enroll 330 additional individuals onto the Community Care for the Elderly Program at the Department of Elder Affairs.

The Florida First budget also continues $3 million for the Statewide Public Guardianship Program to operate on a statewide basis. This program provides guardianship services to persons who do not have adequate income or assets to afford a private guardian.

Improving Cancer Care and Research – The Florida First budget continues to invest more than $82 million in cancer care and research. This includes the enhancement of the statewide Cancer Registry at the Florida Department of Health. This registry is the largest population-based, cancer incidence registry in the nation. These enhancements will allow the registry to collect information on cases which not only in occur hospitals, but in community oncologists’ offices which are the frontline of cancer treatment.