Scott Budget Takes Carrot, Stick Approach to Fixing Disabled Agency

The Florida Current

Gov. Rick Scott’s new budget proposes a combination of cost-saving measures and conditional funding to address the persistent budget gap that has dogged the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

In the budget he unveiled this month, Scott proposes combining categories of services and standardizing reimbursement rates offered under Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver to achieve nearly $38 million in savings. If the agency makes those changes, it can tap an additional $23 million in funding with approval by the Legislative Budget Commission.

Some of the biggest chunks of savings include a reduction of about $5.6 million the agency is expected to achieve by reviewing the services that patients are receiving under their current cost plans, and $8.5 million from rolling back agency provider premiums.

“It’s sort of a carrot and a stick kind of thing: We’ll give you some extra money, but you have to show that you’ve done these cost-savings initiatives first before you get the money,” APD director Mike Hansen said.

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said that requiring cost-cutting measures and tying them to an infusion of recurring funding “should have a positive effect on getting the agency to operate within their budget” and begin taking people off the waiting list to receive services under the program.

The agency’s estimates as of November 30 show the waiting list had grown to 20,822, and that the waiver program exceeded its expected expenditures by more than $9 million in November.

APD spokeswoman Melanie Etters said the numbers have been fluctuating. The November figure approximately equals the rest of the year’s accumulated shortfall combined, so a spike for a single month may not indicate a trend that will carry through the rest of the year. The agency is running a defecit of about $18 million so far for the current fiscal year.

The agency has been taking input from advocates on a new iBudget funding formula that it expects to implement during the coming year.

Hansen said the new funding model is expected to carry a price tag of about $870 million, before accounting for new cost-cutting measures, such as the ones proposed by Scott.

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