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Lawmakers agree on 'LIP' hospital funding


Facing a nearly $400 million cut in the coming fiscal year, House and Senate budget negotiators late Monday agreed on a plan for divvying up money in the Low Income Pool program, which helps pay for hospital care for poor and uninsured patients. Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, said the plan is aimed at mitigating the cuts for hospitals that provide large amounts of charity care. It includes a four-tier formula for distributing money based on the amounts of charity care that hospitals provide. The so-called LIP program was a major point of contention during the 2015 legislation session and played a key role in budget clashes between the House and Senate. The federal government approved $1 billion for the program this year but is reducing the amount to about $608 million during the fiscal year that starts July 1. Also, the federal government has placed additional restrictions on how the money can be used.