JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A controversy over Medicaid billing is brewing in Florida.
A bill just signed by Governor Rick Scott means local counties owe the state millions of dollars. That means taxpayer are footing the bill.
Last year's budget was tough for local counties. Leaders had to figure out what to cut and what to keep to try to balance the budget.
Police officers were cut in Duval County, so were jobs.
This year, money is still tight, but Florida counties have a new problem, a bill just signed by Governor Rick Scott, forcing every county to fork over millions in back Medicaid payments to the state. "It's something we are very concerned about," said Clay County Manager Stephanie Kopelousos.
We checked how much counties in Northeast Florida will have to pay. Duval will owe the most money next year at 18.6 million. Clay County will owe nearly 2 million dollars. Putnam County is estimated at 1.6 million dollars. St. Johns and Nassau Counties are less, at 900,000 and 800,000 dollars.
We called the Governor's office to ask why this strain was put on local governments. In a statement from Rick Scott, he said "I respectfully acknowledge the concern this provision may create for some counties. However, after discussions with the counties, all parties agree that legitimate financial obligations should be paid."
But there's another problem. "There've been a lot of inaccurate things. There are a lot of questions about the validity of how it's being done," said CFO for Jacksonville Ronnie Belton.
Now local county leaders are making sure they're paying for only people who live in their counties. "We need to dispute the ones of people who don't live in our community and who we're not responsible for," said Kopelousos. "This will still have a major impact on our budget," said Belton.
Right now, many of the counties are disputing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The governor's office has pledged to work with county leaders to make sure everything is accurate. If counties don't pay the bill, the state will withhold state revenue starting May 1st.
The governor's office also tells us Medicaid takes up a pretty big chunk of the budget. It's close to 30 percent.