The Associated Press is reporting that Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-led Legislature have “rejected or declined to pursue more than $106 million in federal grant money and returned another $4.5 million” for health care initiatives in the state.
Scott ordered state agencies to reject any money tied to President Barack Obama’s health care plan, which Florida is challenging in court, but Scott kept more than $13 million for a four-year abstinence education grant and for another program coordinating background checks for long-term care workers.
Lawmakers have also rejected nearly $50 million, including $875,000 over five years for a program that aids in cancer prevention and increases access to quality care for cancer patients and $8.3 million allowing Osceola County Health Department to expand community health centers.
In June, a legislative panel turned down a $2.1 million federal grant that would have fully paid for administrative costs to pave the way for an additional $35.7 million in Medicaid funding to pay for nursing home diversions of disabled and elderly patients over the next five years.
The money was offered this year to Florida and 12 other states as part of the federal health care overhaul law. They were invited to join 29 states and the District of Columbia, which already participate in the Money Follows the Person demonstration program. Scott, a Republican, had recommended accepting the grant although he’s been a leading opponent of the federal law, but the GOP-majority commission rejected it on a split vote.
Additionally, the state did not pursue $50 million over five years for community health programs focusing on disease prevention.
Most recently the state Legislature accepted money it originally rejected from the health care reform law for home visiting programs in Florida. Although most GOP members of the state Legislature were initially opposed, the fact that the grant money was tied to a $100 million in federal education grants changed minds.