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Medically Needy Program On Life Support

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(Source: AP)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – Governor Rick Scott and the Republican-led Florida Legislature may have a new target for budget cuts, the medically needy program.

The program serves about 40,000 Floridians with debilitating illnesses and staggering medical bills. According to the News Service of Florida, the program has survived cuts in previous year, but this year could be different.

The program’s enrollees are typically people who have incomes above the Medicaid level, but become buried under hospital debt due to a catastrophic illness.

Governor Scott and state Senate leaders are pushing new proposals that would cut the program almost to the bone.

Hospitals are not happy about the possible cuts and said just six teaching hospitals, which typically work with patients covered by the program, could lose about $330 million if the cuts go through.

Tony Carvalho, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, said the patients would still have to be treated and that could lead to costs being shifted to hospitals, local communities, and customers of private insurance plans.

But Republicans in both chambers are willing to sacrifice the program, and the increased cost of business, to cut the program. It’s currently projected at costing $1.4 billion next year, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

No changes would take place if lawmakers approve the cuts until July 2012.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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