Governor Weighs-In on Medicaid Expansion

Courtesy: CBS News
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By: Capitol News
April 6, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The debate over whether or not to expand the Medicaid program in Florida, something supporters say could help nearly one million people, has already made headlines, but the Florida House and Senate have already drawn their lines in the sand and now the Governor is picking sides.

Governor Rick Scott was urging lawmakers to accept federal money and expand Medicaid in Florida just two years ago.

“I cannot in good conscience deny the uninsured access to care,” said Gov. Rick Scott in March of 2013.

On Monday, it was a different story. The Governor put out a statement reversing course. He cited that with the federal LIP program – which provides money to hospitals treating low income patients – ending, it would be tough for Florida to rely on the feds to fund expansion. Athena Smith Ford with Florida CHAIN says it’s a road block.

“It would be more encouraging, certainly, to see this just get done right away, but we’ve always known that this was going to be a campaign,” she said.

The Governor’s statement puts him on the same page with the Florida House. The House and Senate are at odds over expanding the program. The Senate is backing a proposal that would expand Medicaid but require recipients to have jobs or pay premiums. House Speaker in waiting Richard Corcoran summed up the House’s stance last week.

“Here’s my message to the Senate. They want us to come dance? We’re not dancing. We’re not dancing this session, we’re not dancing next session, we’re not dancing next summer. We’re not dancing,” said Rep. Corcoran.

Senate President Andy Gardiner released his own statement Monday. He said that his chamber will continue pushing for expansion – but without Federal money of some kind – all parts of the budget would be impacted. A bad sign for tax cuts, which is one of the Governor’s top priorities.

The LIP funding program expires in June, and both members in the House and Senate say some sort of agreement or compromise needs to be made soon in order for session to end on time on May 1st.

By: Associated Press
April 6, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott is reversing course and says he no longer supports Medicaid expansion in a move that threatens to undo budget talks between the state House and Senate.

In a statement Monday, Scott expressed concern that the federal government might not make good on their promise to fund Medicaid for an additional 800,000 Floridians. The decision comes as Scott and the Legislature have been in intense negotiations with the federal government to extend more than $1 billion dollars in hospital grants. But the feds have said no and the disagreement has spilled over to Medicaid expansion.

Scott originally opposed expansion, but in an emotional speech two years ago he came out in support.

The disagreement has crippled Tallahassee lawmakers as they finalize a new state budget before the end of the session on May 1.

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