By: Whitney Ray
February 11, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - A multi-billion dollar decision will be made at the state capitol this spring. The legislature must choose whether or not to expand Medicaid. The expansion would allow an extra million people to claim benefits.
But the people in charge of making the decision are the same folks who tried to stop Obamacare in court. They lost the larger lawsuit, but were able to make the Medicaid expansion optional for each state.
Since then Governor Rick Scott has been building a case against the expansion predicting state costs as high as 26 billion dollars.
State lawmakers heard testimony to the contrary Monday. Georgetown Researcher Joan Alker says Florida could actually save money by expanding Medicaid.
“It would be much better to give these people preventative and primary care upfront. They won’t have to bankrupt themselves and hopefully they won’t get as sick and wind up in the hospital,” said Alker.
The savings could be as high as 100 million dollars a year. The predication is based on the expansion offsetting other state costs like mental heath services, substance abuse programs and emergency room visits.
“We are spending some taxpayer dollars on these folks already so we think the state should take a careful look at it’s budget see where these costs are today, pick up the federal dollars to cover those folks primarily at federal cost and give them better care on the bargain,” said Alker.
The study fingers prevention as the main source of the costs savings. Still opponents aren’t ready to bite just yet. They say even though Florida may save money, the federal government will still have to borrow to pay the state.
Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the nation. Counting children there are nearly four million people in the state without coverage.