Fla. special session on Medicaid a non-starter, GOP lawmaker says

Florida Democrats’ demands for a special session to deal with Medicaid expansion are unlikely to produce much, a key Republican lawmaker said Tuesday.

State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said opposition by House Republicans to accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion hasn’t changed since the session ended Friday.

And unless it does, a special session to work on the issue would be a waste of time and money, Baxley said.

“There better be a solution to calling us back,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s really not fruitful …

“I don’t expect it to happen.”

Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

Spending public money on a special session if no agreement is in sight isn’t worth it.

“There’s no agreement whatsoever in what they’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “I think it’s pure politics to put out a letter and say ‘let’s force people to come back.’”
“Unless the House, Senate and governor come to an agreement,” he said, a special session would just “further politicize the conversation.”

An early opponent of Obamacare, Gov. Rick Scott announced in January he had switched to favoring accepting the federal money. During the session that ended Friday, the state Senate passed a plan sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart that would have included federal money, but the House stood firm.

In their letter to Scott, the state’s 14 Democratic senators cited Scott’s change of heart and looming fines to Florida businesses that could result under the new federal health-care law for having uninsured employees. The letter also argued the state stands to lose $51 billion in federal money to other states if it doesn’t enact an expansion program.

“For all of these reasons, the members of the Senate Democratic caucus call on you to exercise  your power as governor to reconvene the Legislature as quickly as possible for a special session to resolve the Medicaid expansion impasse,” the letter state.

But Baxley, a veteran lawmaker who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and is a member of the Appropriations Committee, said special sessions are needed for emergencies – such as balancing the budget when state revenues fall short of projections. Decisions on policies such as insurance coverage belong are settled during regular session, he said.

“Those are clearly emergencies,” he said. “This is a policy discussion. This is a debate, and it will continue to go on.
“I think 60 days is enough.”


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