TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Rick Scott, R, slammed a Florida House proposal Thursday that would pass up billions of dollars in Medicaid expansion funding.
The House proposal calls for Florida to set up a much smaller, state-financed program for helping uninsured residents get coverage.
The House proposal relies entirely on $237 million in state taxpayer funds and would not tap into an estimated $51 billion dollars in federal aid available under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) over the next decade.
The Obama administration wants to make Medicaid available to Americans earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been offering Florida enough PPACA Medicaid expansion money to help enroll about 1 million uninsured residents in Medicaid plans.
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The Florida House proposal — based on a program developed by former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is now a U.S. senator — would provide access to coverage for the 115,000 state residents who earn up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
The state’s Florida Health Choices program would provide low-income residents with state money that they could use to buy private health coverage through the new PPACA health insurance exchange system.
Scott made an about-face decision earlier this year saying he supported Medicaid expansion because it was the compassionate, common-sense approach, but he’s said he’s open to alternatives after committees in both the House and Senate rejected expanding Medicaid. Scott signaled Thursday that he would support a Senate plan proposed by Sen. Joe Negron “because it protects both state taxpayers and the uninsured in our state.”
Negron’s bill would still tap into billions of federal dollars and use those funds for vouchers so patients could purchase private health insurance. His plan would use Florida Healthy Kids, an organization he says has a strong record in the state.
But House Republicans made it clear that they would not accept any health plan that relies on federal funds, worrying that if they expand the program the federal government will not make good on its promise to fund it.
The federal government has promised to foot the entire bill of Medicaid expansion for three years and cover 90 percent of the cost after that.