Gridlock in Tallahassee could cost Lee Memorial millions

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LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Southwest Florida hospitals are at risk of losing millions of dollars in funding.

Lee Memorial Health System CEO Jim Nathan says unless lawmakers in Tallahassee can come together, the impact will be enormous.

“It would hurt everyone because we would have less capacity in our emergency rooms, less bed capacity to admit patients that need to be in the hospital, less upgraded technology,” Nathan told WINK News Thursday.

According to Nathan, roughly 80 percent of Lee Memorial patients are either insured through the government or aren’t insured at all.

The federal government has said it’s pulling the plug on $2 billion in funding for hospitals like Lee Memorial that treat large numbers of people who can’t pay, unless the state adopts a senate plan to expand care to the poor through Medicaid. But the Florida House of Representatives and Governor Rick Scott are fighting the plan.

Thursday Gov. Scott said he plans to sue the Obama administration for what he calls “coercing” the state into expanding medicaid.

“We need to explore every option to ensure that these funds are available for the most needy here in Florida,” said Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

“I don’t know whether this pushes everybody further apart, or if through litigation it causes people to come closer together. I remain optimistic that people will come together, but the lines in the sand are really deep, and they’re getting wider and deeper,” said Nathan.

The Florida legislature only has a couple more weeks to reach an agreement. The legislative session ends May 1.

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