Florida budget agreement a win for seniors, nursing homes and safety net hospitals

TALLAHASSEE — Nursing homes will get a $130 million bump in Medicaid payments, and residents who live in the facilities will get nearly a 25 percent increase in a monthly stipend they can use for personal needs, under a state budget deal finalized Thursday.

Under the spending plan, the state during the upcoming year would spend $37.1 billion across six state health-care and social-service agencies. Nearly $9.9 billion of that amount would be state general-revenue tax dollars, compared to the $9.4 billion during the current year.

The Agency for Health Care Administration, which houses Florida’s Medicaid program, would gobble up the majority of the funding, accounting for $29.2 billion in spending during the fiscal year starting July 1. The Department of Children and Families is the second largest agency, accounting for $1.7 billion.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley said the personal allowance for nursing home-residents has long been a priority of senators, and this year’s budget increases the amount from $105 to $130.

“These are our most vulnerable folks in our nursing homes,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. “They don’t have lobbyists. They’re not a special interest. They just have folks like all of us here in the Legislature to fight for them.”

The $130 million bump in Medicaid spending for nursing homes comes at a time that the Legislature is requiring nursing homes to have generators and enough fuel to cool facilities during emergencies. That requirement stems from the deaths of residents of a Broward County nursing home after Hurricane Irma.

Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, identified increasing nursing home funds as one of his top priorities for the legislative session, and the final spending matches the $130 million that was in the original Senate budget plan. The $130 million was also more than amounts discussed Wednesday as details of the budget deal started to emerge.



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