(1) The agency, pursuant to s. 154.3105, shall adopt rules which provide statewide eligibility determination procedures, forms, and criteria which shall be used by all counties for determining whether a person financially qualifies as indigent for the purposes of this part.
(a) The criteria used to determine eligibility must be uniform statewide and include, at a minimum, which assets, if any, may be included in the determination, which verification of income shall be required, which categories of persons shall be eligible, and any other criteria which may be determined as necessary.
(b) The methodology for determining financial eligibility must be uniform statewide such that any county or the state could determine whether a person is a qualified indigent.
(2) Determination of financial eligibility as a qualified indigent may occur either prior to a person’s admission to a participating or a regional referral hospital or subsequent to such admission.
(3) Determination of whether a hospital patient not already determined eligible meets or does not meet eligibility standards to financially qualify as indigent shall be made within 60 days following notification by the hospital requesting a determination of indigency, by certified letter, to the county known or believed to be the county of residence or to the agency. If, for any reason, the county or agency is unable to determine a patient’s eligibility within the allotted timeframe, the hospital shall be notified in writing of the reason or reasons.
(4) A patient determined eligible as a qualified indigent subsequent to his or her admission to a participating hospital or a regional referral hospital shall be considered to have been qualified upon admission. Such determination shall be made by a person designated by the governing board of the county to make such a determination or by the agency.
(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, any county may establish thresholds of financial eligibility which are less restrictive than 100 percent of the federal poverty line. However, a county may not establish eligibility thresholds which are more restrictive than 100 percent of the federal poverty line.
(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, there is hereby established a spend-down program for persons who would otherwise qualify as qualified indigent persons, but whose average family income, for the 12 months preceding the determination, is between 100 percent and 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The agency shall adopt, by rule, procedures for the spend-down program. The rule shall require that in order to qualify, a person must have incurred bills for hospital care which would otherwise have qualified for payment under this part. This subsection does not apply to persons who are residents of counties that are at their 10-mill cap on October 1, 1991.