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Fla. legislators say reports of ‘secret talks’ on Medicaid expansion false

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Top Florida lawmakers from both parties said a report Thursday that “secret talks” were in progress between health-care executives and the Legislature to expand Medicaid in Florida had no basis.

The British newspaper the Guardian reported Thursday that Florida could become one of several Republican-run states that oppose Obamacare but would accept federal dollars for Medicaid expansion. For Republicans in the House, who offered their own insurance program for the poor and uninsured late last session, such a deal would amount to a huge turnabout.

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State Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said that turnabout wasn’t going to happen.

“Today’s story in the Guardian regarding ‘secret talks’ over Medicaid expansion is incorrect on multiple levels,” the statement said.

Corcoran, who is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, said the report appeared to confuse the state’s Low Income Pool, a funding source that’s part of the state’s Medicaid program, with Medicaid expansion itself.

The House Republican leadership remains opposed to Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, Corcoran said.

“The Florida House would welcome any talks providing Florida the flexibility to spend tax dollars more wisely and has no interest in expanding Obamacare under its current inflexible and irresponsible terms.”

House Minority Leader Perry Thurstson, D-Fort Lauderdale, who led a Democratic slowdown of House work last spring to protest the House GOP’s refusal to go along with Medicaid expansion, issued a statement saying the report caught him by surprise.

“Aside from today’s news report, I am not aware of any new conversations between healthcare stakeholders and legislative leaders about Florida accepting available federal dollars to provide affordable, quality health coverage to Floridian,” the statement said.

“However, I am hopeful that Republican legislative leaders and Governor Rick Scott will recognize the profound need and will take positive bipartisan action to reduce the high number of uninsured Floridians.”

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