Swift reaction to Gov. Scott expanding Medicaid: ‘Legislature will make the ultimate decision’

Florida Governor Rick Scott flip-flopped on his stand opposing Medicaid expansion.

Scott announced on Wednesday he would support the expansion of Medicaid coverage to an estimated 900,000 more people in Florida, as long as the federal government would foot the bill of additional costs 100 percent.

Scott explained his reasons for the change of heart in a press conference, covered by Fox News:

The governor said he gained new perspective after his mother’s death last year, calling his decision to support a key provision of the Affordable Care Act a “compassionate, common sense step forward.”

“Before I ever dreamed of standing here today as governor of this great state, I was a strong advocate for better ways to improve healthcare than the government-run approach taken in the President’s healthcare law. I believe in a different approach. But, regardless of what I — or anyone else — believes, a Supreme Court decision and a presidential election made the President’s healthcare mandates the law of the land,” Scott said at a news conference.

The governor said he still worries that the president’s plan could “lead to less patient choice, worse care, and higher costs” but he can’t “in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.” Scott stressed he won’t simply deny new Medicaid recipients health insurance after the three years are up, but said he will spend that time measuring how the expansion impacts healthcare costs, quality and access.

The Governor’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are available here. To watch the entirety of Governor Scott’s press conference on health care, click HERE

The response from other Florida leaders was swift.

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) released the following statement regarding Governor Scott’s decision on expanding Medicaid:

“Governor Scott has made his decision and I certainly respect his thoughts. However, the Florida Legislature will make the ultimate decision. I am personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of healthcare in our state and ensure our long-term financial stability.

The House of Representatives has a bipartisan select committee that is currently meeting regularly on this issue. I look forward to the recommendations that our select committee will bring forth in the next few weeks. I am confident that our actions will be based on principle and rooted in facts.”

Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville)  released the following statement:

“The Senate Select Committee on PPACA is in the process of completing its thorough review of state options associated with federal health care reform. Senator Joe Negron, Chair of our PPACA Select Committee, anticipates that the committee will complete its work and be prepared to offer recommendations for consideration by the full Senate towards the beginning of the 2013 Session. I’m eager to read their recommendations and look forward to working with our partners in the House and with Governor Scott on the right solution for Florida.”

Americans for Prosperity-Florida’s State Director Slade O’Brien had the following comments:

“Governor Scott’s announcement today is extremely disappointing.  Governor Scott had been a national leader in the fight against President Obama’s healthcare takeover.  He was elected because of his principled conservative leadership against ObamaCare’s overreach, and led the charge, with Attorney General Pam Bondi, to take ObamaCare to the Supreme Court.  But today he came out in support of the Medicaid expansion he vowed to oppose.

“At every level of government, it is too easy for politicians to spend other people’s money. For far too long, states have fallen for the promises of “free” federal money ignoring the insidious federal strings and the long-term effects on state budgets.  Florida’s Medicaid program already costs the taxpayers more than $20 billion a year, and the financial burden will only grow if a million new people are added to the program. Hopefully our legislative leaders will not follow in Governor Scott’s footsteps and will reject expansion of this broken system.”

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