“(The divide over expanding Medicaid in Florida could be seen last week at a breakfast featuring state lawmakers in Gainesville. State Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said he opposed expanding a Medicaid program that he views as deeply flawed.
“You won’t find me expanding a broken program,” he said.
Perry’s stance is similar to that of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican who recently said that his chamber “would not be doing anything” on the Medicaid expansion in the upcoming session.
In contrast, state Sen. Rob Bradley left more of an opening for the expansion during Monday’s breakfast at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center. Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, said that he’s hopeful for serious discussions about taking a “Florida approach” to expanding Medicaid. “It’s incumbent on us to have solutions and not just say we’re not going to do anything,” he said. Solutions can be found in proposals from business and hospital groups to cover more than 750,000 uninsured Floridians. These plans would take advantage of federal funding for the Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act, but include enough changes to make them palatable to conservatives.
One plan, A Healthy Florida Works, would require enrollees to pay a premium ranging from $3 to $25 a month and participate in job training and education programs.
The plan shares similarities with Indiana’s version of the Medicaid expansion. The federal government agreed last month to the plan after it passed a Republican-led Legislature and was signed by Indiana’s Republican governor.
Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, has said he supports the Medicaid expansion but has done little to make it happen. Instead, his new $77 billion state budget relies on the fiction that the federal government will keep paying for Florida hospitals to care for the uninsured.
About $2 billion provided to hospitals caring for the uninsured is set to expire July 1.
In addition, Florida businesses are facing $250 million in annual tax penalties for workers who should be covered under Medicaid but instead will need federal insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act.
State lawmakers can’t keep ignoring the needs of uninsured Floridians as well as the repercussions for their inaction. They need to bridge any divisions between their chambers and find a way to close the insurance gap.
As Bradley suggested, lawmakers have an obligation to seek solutions rather than sitting on their hands.
Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, has said he supports the Medicaid expansion but has done little to make it happen.)”
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