By: Mike Vasilinda
State lawmakers have already said “no” to Governor Rick Scott’s plan to expand Medicaid to a million working poor, but that didn’t stop dozens of medical professionals from showing up at the State Capitol today to push for the program. And in addition to patient care, billions of dollars are at stake.
Karen Hagans came to the Capitol from Jacksonville to support efforts to increase care for the working poor. A diabetic, she says without Medicaid, she wouldn’t be here. “My sugar level was over twelve hundred and I should’ve been dead or in a coma, but they saved me.”, says Hagans who is a Medicaid patient.
The event brought dozens of health care professionals to the Capitol. At stake is as much as 50 billion dollars over ten years. “The University of Florida study shows that it will create fifty-four thousand jobs in this state.”, says Erin Ennis, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Board Member.
The expansion could provide needed care for up to a million working poor and keep them out of Lisa Sgariata’s emergency room. “They will be able to afford the primary care that they need to get that preventive care so they don’t end up in emergency department.”, says Sgariata from Lee Memorial Hospital.
The expansion proposed by Governor Rick Scott has already been killed by key House and Senate committees. State Representative Mike Fasano has harsh words for his colleagues. “It’s another excuse not to accept federal dollars and help those who need help.”
But the Senator in charge says the criticism isn’t fair. He doesn’t want to expand Medicaid, but he does wants a totally new approach. “We’re not going to put you on Medicaid. We’re going to give you a private health insurance card like your fellow citizens have.”, says Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart.
The governor’s written response to the defeat was short and sweet saying only that he knows that lawmakers will do the right thing. But coming up with an entirely new health plan to help people like Karen Hagans in just seven weeks is a heavy lift for lawmakers.