Castor can't believe Rick Scott rejected $438 million in federal health care money

Because payment levels to physicians for Medicaid patients are so much lower than for patients on Medicare or private insurance, many doctors simply don't want or can't afford to see Medicaid patients.

Castor said she and others in Congress fought to put funding for doctors who work with Medicaid patients in the 2010 health care law, to give them a boost in their reimbursement rates. "These are dollars that Floridians have paid in their taxes and they deserve to be returned back," she said.

Dr. Louis St. Petery, pediatrician and executive vice president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that state Senator Joe Negron, chair of the budget subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations, put the $438 million in this year's budget, but it was rejected by the House, with Governor Scott's assent.

The conference call came two days after a Rasmussen poll found again that a majority of Americans favor repealing the landmark health care bill. Republican presidential candidates get huge cheers whenever they advocate repeal on the campaign trail.

Families USA head Ron Pollock admits that most polls show the majority of Americans don't support the law, but says when pieces of the law are described individually, the support is evident. "There's a disconnect about people not knowing about those very reforms," he said. He said there was similar opposition to the prescription drug plan when it initially passed in 2003, but that's changed as the benefits have kicked in.

  • Kathy Castor

Everyone knows that Rick Scott rejected over $2 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail last year — and that other states have been happy to take the rejected money for their own rail projects.

But did you know that Scott apparently is the only governor in the nation who has rejected over $430 million in federal funds to boost reimbursement rates for primary care physicians?

Well, he did, with the approval of the Florida House. That prompted Tampa area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor to call on the governor Wednesday to rethink that rejection, saying it's hurting doctors who care for Medicaid patients, and ultimately will deleteriously affect everyone else in the state, with private insurers having to make up the difference for those patients shifted to hospitals or emergency rooms.

Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA, joined Castor in a conference call on Wednesday. He blasted the governor for being "astoundingly shortsighted" in rejecting the funds. Pollock acknowledges there are several states whose governors and/or legislatures have refused to enact so-called exchanges, a set of state-regulated and standardized health care plans. But he believes Scott's "ideological rigidity" makes him the only such governor to reject the physician reimbursement money.

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