Why Did Florida Snub A $35.7M Grant To Keep People Out Of Nursing Homes?

Is this just plain incompetence, or is Gov. Soylent Green making yet another one of his wingnutty libertarian points? Whatever the explanation, I'm sure it's just fine. It's not as if there are any sick or elderly people in Florida anyway!

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In March, Gov. Rick Scott’s staff said he would accept a $35.7 million “Money Follows the Person” federal health grant.

But the Legislature appears to have decided otherwise. In the 2011-12 budget Scott just signed, lawmakers failed to give the Agency for Health Care Administration budget authority to draw down and spend the money.

Patient advocates were dismayed at the omission, because the money was to have been spent on home- and community-care programs that let disabled and elderly people move out of nursing homes or avoid them in the first place.

The likely reason seems to be that Scott wants to throw a monkey wrench into the implementation of the Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act:

Questions sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services press office today drew an unusually cryptic response: "We continue working closely with states to ensure the benefits of more affordable, quality health care choices are available to all consumers."

Patient advocates say the grant money would have served the interests of both taxpayers and patients by keeping patients in the community and out of nursing homes – and letting some who are already in nursing homes be released to less-confining, less-expensive residential care.

“You end up spending a ton of money…in long-term care” that could be avoided, said Dave Bruns, communications manager for Florida AARP.

McRay and Bruns said they weren't sure whether the omission was an oversight or a deliberate cut for a program that was re-authorized under the 2010 health law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Florida is leading a multistate challenge of the law in federal court, saying that it's unconstitutional because it requires all Americans to obtain health coverage or pay a penalty.


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