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Joe Negron Remains 'Encouraged' on Federal Medicaid Talks

Medicaid costs could grow another $300 million in Floridas next fiscal-year budget.

Still, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said Monday hes been encouraged with the states ongoing talks with the federal government regarding the future of the program in Florida.

There is good dialogue between the state and federal government, and as long as were working together as partners I think everything will go along just fine, Negron said. But he cautioned that if the federal government wants to commandeer our budget and make unilateral terms of surrender, I think it will fall apart.

Negron, who has been one of the Legislatures point guards in the states efforts to combat rising health care costs, said the future of the talks depends on the federal government agreeing to remain partners.

Ive always expected there will be some give and take because we fund this program together; they pay a little more than half, we pay a little less than half, he said.

Negron added that preliminary discussions of the talks will be heard later this week and that he is hopeful the states requested changes to the program can be made before the start of the upcoming session in January.

Im getting reports that if we dont make changes, that Medicaid could be as much as $300 million more than it was last year and thats not fair to other parts of the budget, he said. It crowds out funding for public schools, for transportation, for economic development. So to me, its essential that we are able to put a cap on 'this is what were going to spend on Medicaid,' similar to what theyre doing in Rhode Island, which was approved.

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