Opinion

Fla. Democrats want another bite at the Medicaid apple

TALLAHASSEE – The battle lines haven’t changed.

With Florida state House Republicans holding firm against Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, Florida’s 2013 legislative session had barely ended when Democrats demanded another shot.

Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, issued an email statement within minutes of the final gavel calling on Gov. Rick Scott to call lawmakers into a special session to deal with the issue.

“…[M]any Floridians are disappointed and will continue, despite the session’s end, to expect the governor and Legislature to approve a bipartisan health coverage expansion compromise that relies upon available federal funds,” Thurston wrote.

“Therefore, I call upon Governor Scott to …. order the Florida Legislature into special session at the earliest convenience to pass a bipartisan health coverage expansion plan for Florida’s working families.”

Scott, a longtime opponent of Obamacare, switched to favoring expanding Medicaid under the program to take advantage of federal money.

A Senate plan, sponsored by Stuart Republican Joe Negron, would also have accepted federal funding.

However, House Republicans led by Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Lutz, chairman of the Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, offered an alternative to Obamacare.

The “Florida Health Choices Plus” plan was aimed primarily at uninsured families with children living on income under the federal poverty level ($23,550 for a family of four), according to figures released by the House Majority’s Office.

Under the plan, recipient households would be required to contribute $25 monthly premiums for each person enrolled. In return, the state would allot $2,000 annually for the recipient’s health care

When Weatherford and Corcoran unveiled the plan – with only two weeks left in the session – Weatherford called that amount of time an “eternity” for legislation to percolate.

That “eternity” ended at 7:16 p.m. Friday.

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