Commission takes on Medicaid suit, Archer Braid Trail


Published: Monday, April 23, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 23, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.

Alachua County commissioners will take on several familiar and weighty topics at their meeting Tuesday: A lawsuit over Medicaid billing practices, the Archer Braid Trail and the transportation system surtax.

Commissioners will consider joining a lawsuit with the Florida Association of Counties and other counties over new legislation governing Medicaid billing practices.

The changes to the billing system could cost the county an estimated $6 million to $7 million when it already is facing a $2 million decline in taxable property value.

Last month, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that makes counties responsible for 85 percent of unpaid bills related to Medicaid patients who are hospitalized for more than 10 days.

But, according to county staff, the billing process of the Agency for Health Care Administration is flawed, with the county routinely rejecting about 80 percent of the Medicaid bills it receives due to billing problems.

Alachua County also has argued that, as the first county listed in the state, the billing system often mistakenly assigns bills to it. And because of the trauma center at Shands at the University of Florida, it has received bills for non-county residents treated at the hospital.

Under the new legislation, counties must pay backlogged and current Medicaid bills. If they don’t, the money will be withheld from revenue sharing from the state.

Another issue that will come before the County Commission is the Archer Braid Trail, a multi-use path that, if completed, would run from Archer to the start of the Depot Avenue Trail near Shands at UF.

It’s been proposed that a section of the trail would run through Haile Plantation, which has garnered both objections and praise from the area’s residents.

The county now is working on design plans for the trail. It’s been recommended the plans be presented to the public at a future workshop before proceeding forward with the project.

Also on the commission’s agenda is the proposed transportation system surtax.

Last month, a majority of the commission voted to move ahead with an idea to separate roads and transit projects into two different referendums. The plan proposes a referendum for a three-quarter-cent tax for road projects and another referendum for a quarter-cent sales tax for Gainesville’s transit projects. Both are intended to go to voters in November. If passed, each would run for 15 years.

The recommendation before commissioners calls for them to approve interlocal agreements over how the millions of dollars in revenues would be divided among the different types of projects and then shared among the various municipalities.

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