Florida: Federal government suspending talks over health care money at critical moment

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida officials say the federal government is suspending negotiations over the potential loss of more than $1 billion in money now flowing to the state's hospitals.

The move comes at a critical time since the Florida Legislature is trying to finalize a new state budget between now and the session end on May 1. Senate Republicans have vowed that they will not vote for a budget if it requires large cuts to hospitals.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek said Wednesday that federal officials are halting negotiations for at least two weeks.

Dudek called the news "sudden and disappointing." She said the decision could signal the "abrupt end" of the money that now goes to hospitals to pay for the care of the poor and uninsured.

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