Fla. Senate committee rejects Medicaid expansion

Sen Joe Negron
Sen. Joe Negron Photo credit: WUSF Health News

On the heels of last week’s rejection of the expansion of Medicaid coverage by the Florida House legislative committee, the Senate Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act vote Monday went the same direction, according to Reuters.

Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to cover about 1 million more poor people  cannot happen without the House and Senate voting to expand Medicaid coverage with federal funding coming from Obamacare.

“I am confident that the Legislature will do the right thing and find a way to protect taxpayers and the uninsured in our state while the new healthcare law provides 100 percent federal funding,” Scott said in a statement released by his office.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, released the following statement regarding the Senate Committee vote:

I appreciate the Senate Select Committee on PPACA for taking a thoughtful and deliberative approach on the issue of Medicaid expansion.  Like the House, the committee gathered the facts and decided that Washington’s inflexible approach to force Florida to take a “one-size fits all” policy choice is not in our state’s best interest.

I look forward to working with Senate President Gaetz as we investigate alternatives that will strengthen the safety net while also ensuring that we do not put future funding for our schools, public safety and protection of our beaches and springs at risk.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, introduced a new plan that would work through the current health care exchange, Florida Healthy Kids, which covers low income families. Prices would be based on the family’s income and they could choose from available plans.

According to the Sun-Sentinel:

The insurance plans would also have to have health reimbursement accounts that would reward individuals for healthy behaviors. Money would be put into those accounts that the patient could then use for co-pays or other health care costs.

It would still require the money from the federal government that is being made available to states for Medicaid expansion to make the plan work. Other states, including Indiana and Arkansas, are looking at similar alternatives.

“The Senate Select Committee made the right decision today to reject placing a million more Floridians in a federal Medicaid system that has failed providers, patients and taxpayers. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a statement. “I appreciate the efforts of Senator Negron and members of the PPACA Select Committee as they seek a Florida solution, not a Washington solution, to the problem of low income, uninsured Floridians, the vast majority of whom have jobs and are working to support their families.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) and other Democratic senators welcomed the new plan introduced by Negron.

“Although Republicans voted against what they called ‘traditional Medicaid expansion’ they turned around and endorsed a program that still relies on the same federal dollars and still extends affordable health care to 1 million Floridians,” Senator Smith said in a statement. “Whatever name they opt to give the program, the bottom line is that money allocated by the federal government for Medicaid expansion will be the mechanism. In the Senate, the remaining question is no longer ‘if,’ but ‘who.’”

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