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Florida to keep yet another grant funded by the Affordable Care Act

According to Politico Pro, the state of Florida is going to keep yet another grant that is funded (partly) from the federal health care reform law. The state has dismissed other grants that were awarded from the federal government because the state Legislature is opposed to the Affordable Care Act. #

The U.S. Health and Human Services announced yesterday that it was awarding “$49 million in grants, partly supported by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to improve the quality of health care and strengthen the public health infrastructure.” #

According to the federal health agency’s press release: #

Awarded to all fifty States, the grants strengthen State, local and territorial health departments’ capacity to perform critical epidemiology and laboratory work, detect and prevent healthcare-associated infections and support immunization programs. This is double the spending for the same programs in 2010. #

“Investing in public health is a key part of the Affordable Care Act. It helps transform our nation’s health care system from one based on when people get sick to one that prevents disease in the first place,” said Sebelius. #

The grants will fund key State and local public health programs supported through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the grants awarded, $35.8 million in Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars and $3.8 million in additional CDC funding will go to increasing epidemiology, laboratory and health information systems capacity at health departments in all 50 States, two territories and the six largest local jurisdictions (such as the cities of Los Angeles and Philadelphia). This is the second year that the Affordable Care Act has strengthened public health departments’ capacity to fight infectious diseases through enhanced workforce training and improved information technology. #

“This funding will be used to create jobs, enabling the hiring and training of epidemiologists, laboratory scientists and health information specialists in the field of infectious diseases. These are experts who often work behind the scenes in health care to fight disease and keep us healthy,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “These grants will also make it easier for health departments to better manage and exchange important information.” #

Florida, in particular, was awarded nearly $1.5 million of this grant money to it’s state health department. #

Unlike many other grants awarded to the state through Affordable Care Act, Florida will actually be using these grants, according to Politico Pro. The site is reporting that state officials intend to keep this money, despite its past rejection of other grants: #

Florida officials refuse to accept health reform funding that will entangle the state in its implementation, Brian Burgess, Gov. Rick Scott’s communications director, wrote in an email to POLITICO. “However, there are some instances where funding for existing programs has been tucked into the Affordable Care Act” #

The GOP-led state Legislature turned down millions of dollars allocated to things such as child abuse and neglect prevention in the state, even though Scott approved the grants. Legislators have cited the state’s litigation against the federal health care reform law as a reason for rejecting the grants. #

However, the Legislature did approve funds for abstinence education that was allocated by the health care reform law. State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, criticized the Florida Legislature for its “hypocrisy” in accepting those funds and not others. #

Advocates are also calling foul over the state’s rejection of federal funds for community health centers — specifically those awarded to Osceola County. Because independent community health centers do not require funding approval from the state Legislature, they have been able to use the money that was awarded to them. #

Recently, Scott defended the state’s rejection of federal health care money during a C-SPAN appearance. #

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