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Senate Inches Closer to Medicaid Expansion

March 10th, 2015 by flanews

Florida has so far been stubborn about not accepting $50 billion dollars of federal money to expand Medicaid in the state, but as Matt Galka tells us, the Florida Senate is rethinking that stance.

It was standing room only in the Florida Senate’s Health policy meeting.  50 billion dollars of federal healthcare money was on the line in the form of a Medicaid expansion proposal that could help almost a million low-income Floridians.

“This is something that we need to do, because people are suffering for the lack of adequate affordable quality healthcare,” said Tampa Democratic Senator Arthenia Joyner.

Florida is at risk of losing more than a billion dollars of federal low income pool funding. That money goes towards hospitals treating the uninsured or underinsured. That has led to the Senate’s proposal of a state-run insurance exchange for low-income Floridians – as long as they work, attend school, or pay premiums.

Sen. Aaron Bean/(R) Health Policy Committee Chair

“We have to look at options to keep our hospitals open, a lot of our healthcare systems that depend on this low income pool money to figure out how we’re going to survive providing healthcare for our most needy and our most vulnerable citizens,” said Sen. Aaron Bean (R – Jacksonville).

But the expansion proposal has always been a tough sell in the Florida House.

Former Republican House Speaker Tom Feeney – who now heads business lobby group Associated Industries of Florida – says he’s hoping for an about face from the other chamber.

“Our view is that the House and the conservative leadership oughta do like Mike Pence, the conservative Governor of Indiana did. A consumer based, choice based plan,” said Feeney.

But not everyone’s on board. James Madison Institute President Bob McClure says if the feds are going to pull other health funding, they can just as soon pull this funding down the road.

“They’re not reliable for a proven source of funding for the state that’s been in place for years, why would we double down on that and take an additional and count on them to fund an additional 50 billion dollars,” he said.

If the state doesn’t accept it, it goes toward other states that do expand Medicaid.

The proposal passed unanimously out of the committee. We did ask the Governor if he supported the measure, but he was non-committal saying that there was still a lot of time left in this year’s session.

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