Medicaid waiting list, shortage of nurses among Florida budget requests – State of Reform

The Florida House Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee kicked off its first interim meeting on Tuesday before the 2022 legislative session, reviewing budget requests from the Agency for the Disabled (APD), Department of Seniors Affairs (DOEA) and the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA).

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Agency for people with disabilities

Rose Salinas, deputy director of budget planning and ODA administration, provided committee members with a breakdown of the agency’s $ 61.5 million request. A majority of the funding would support Home and Community Services (HCBS) statewide. About $ 25.5 million would expand waiver services and take people off a long waiting list – about 22,000 people.

Salinas said the ODA accepts around 100 people per month. This year, the agency offered APD enrollment to 621 people, with 252 more offers coming on October 8. The agency is targeting a total of 1,900 offers this year.

Approximately $ 28.5 million would increase hourly reimbursement rates for behavioral analysis services at HCBS. These would align reimbursement rates with those implemented under the state’s Medicaid plan.

Other ODA budget requests include $ 1.47 million to complete the implementation of iConnect, the agency’s electronic customer data system. APD has also requested $ 1.2 million to contract outpatient medical case managers for 2,250 APD-approved group homes. Salinas reiterated the labor shortage most establishments faced during the pandemic.

“Like any other health system [facility] who employs nurses, we have problems hiring and retaining nurses …

Department of Seniors Affairs

Secretary Richard Prudom presented the budget requests for the DOEA, which serves one of the nation’s largest elderly populations (5.5 million). According to Prudom, Florida houses about 150,000 people in long-term care facilities, although up to 900,000 more rely on community care services, such as nutrition programs.

Prudom said much of the federal funding for the American Rescue Plan (ARP) resulted in a “modest demand” for state funds. Prudom applauded the federal funds, especially since the agency had been given virtually unlimited time to spend them.

Image: Florida Department of Seniors Affairs

“We took the time to ask our [Area Agencies on Aging] ask their agencies, their providers: “What do you think you need in your communities to meet the needs of your seniors and in which we can invest?” … What we want to do is invest in a service, invest in a sustainable program.

The DOEA has asked the state to transfer its All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) program to the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) because the program serves Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. . This would result in an estimated reduction of $ 33.8 million in general revenue.

The DOEA also requested $ 2.3 million from the state to upgrade its 30-year-old eCRITS system. [explain]. The agency is also requesting an additional FTE transfer for a position that would focus on community outreach.

Department of Veterans Affairs

FDVA currently serves 1.5 million veterans across the state. During the pandemic, the FDVA said it served 78,000 ex-combatants for the first time. Major General James Hartsell, director of FDVA, said his agency’s top budgetary priorities include collecting trust funds, tackling labor shortages and improving “quality services.” of veterans’ lives.

The FDVA has requested $ 41.2 million to replenish its general trust fund for veterans nursing home staff, after losing income during the pandemic. Since February 2020, FDVA has seen its vacant workforce increase from 11 to 110.

The FDVA also estimated that it would need $ 19.4 million to support veterans ‘quality of life’ services, which include more contract staff, suicide prevention services, and training grants. of the work force.

Image: Florida Department of Veterans Affairs

The subcommittee has yet to set a date for its next meeting. However, Representative Brown requested to reserve a time slot for a Department of Health presentation on the Florida Center for Nursing reinstatement. Representative Brown helped sponsor a invoice for reinstatement earlier this year, and is working with the Department of Health to navigate the contracts needed to implement the FCN.

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