Judge backs AHCA on immigrant emergency care



An administrative law judge Monday ruled in favor of the state Agency for Health Care Administration in a long-running dispute with hospitals about emergency care for undocumented immigrants.  The case focused on Medicaid payments that hospitals receive when undocumented immigrants go to emergency rooms.

Judge John D.C. Newton, in a 43-page decision, rejected arguments by a coalition of hospitals that the Agency for Health Care Administration had overstepped its authority in approving rules that involve the duration of payments.

“The agency was resolute in its commitment to only apply the standards and definitions of statutes and rules in the evaluation of claims for payment for emergency medical services to undocumented aliens,’’ Newton wrote.

In 2012, Newton ruled against AHCA in an earlier case brought by hospitals. That case stemmed from a change that AHCA made in 2010 to allow payments until patients were “stabilized.”

The hospitals argued the change was made improperly and that it led to claims being denied and to attempts to recoup money from hospitals. After that case, AHCA discontinued its use of what Newton described as the “stabilization standard” and changed the process for evaluating claims.

Jobless rate holds steady
Florida’s unemployment mark stood at 5.7 percent in March, holding steady from February, the state Department of Economic Opportunity announced last week. The jobless rate, which has been at 5.7 percent since December, represents 548,000 people out of work from a workforce of 9.1 million.

The figures for February and December were revised up after initially being posted at 5.6 percent.

The national unemployment rate has been at 5.5 percent the past two months.

Gov. Rick Scott, who spent days last week trying to lure jobs from California, announced the latest figures during an appearance on April 17 at Kellstrom Defense in Miramar.

The fields showing the largest percentages in growth during the past month were construction, professional and technical services and leisure and hospitality. Fields such as educational services and waste services showed declines between February and March.


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