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Florida Gov. Scott Hints At Opposition To Medicaid Expansion

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Florida Gov. Scott Hints At Opposition To Medicaid Expansion

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Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida

By Gray Rohrer, Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The fight over expanding Medicaid to cover 800,000 more people in Florida took another twist Monday, as a statement released by Gov. Rick Scott hinting at his opposition to expansion set off a ripple through the state government and health care circles.
Scott has previously stated he wants to focus on his priorities of cutting taxes, keeping tuition low, and boosting K-12 education funding instead of making a push for Medicaid expansion, something he came out in favor of in 2013.

But with the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, threatening to end funding for the Low Income Pool, a Medicaid program paying hospitals for care for low-income and uninsured patients, Scott raised doubts about expanding the underlying Medicaid program.

“Given that the federal government said they would not fund the federal LIP program to the level it is funded today, it would be hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs that CMS could scale back or walk away from,” Scott said in a statement first released to The Associated Press.

Asked if the statement meant Scott was now opposing Medicaid expansion, a spokeswoman for the governor declined to elaborate.

LIP, funded mostly through county and federal funds, is a $2.2 billion program set to end June 30.

Should Scott ultimately oppose Medicaid expansion, it would be a reversal of his previous position.

“While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care,” Scott said during a February 2013 news conference.

Original Medicaid expansion plans under the Affordable Care Act would offer coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $33,000 for a family of four. The expansion plan would cost $52 billion in federal funds over 10 years, with the federal government paying the full cost for two years before phasing down to 90 percent, with the state covering the rest.

Because the Florida House refused to expand Medicaid two years ago, the cost would now be $47 billion over eight years.

“The law is clear: Federal funding for Florida’s Medicaid expansion covers 100 percent of the costs of newly eligible individuals through 2016 and will never fall below 90 percent. HHS has proven itself willing to work with any state interested in expanding Medicaid, and we have consistently said that a Florida solution would reduce costs for hospitals that are typically passed on to taxpayers and expand access to quality health care for more Floridians,” said Ben Wakana, spokesman for the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, has pushed an alternative Medicaid expansion play known as Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange, or FHIX. It requires newly eligible Medicaid recipients to pay co-pays, premiums, and be employed or looking for work. It would also end if the state didn’t receive approval or financial support from the federal government to pay for it.

Gardiner isn’t budging from his support of the expansion plan, despite Scott’s hints and a weeks-long period of standoff budget negotiations with the House, which has refused to take up expansion. He said the federal government won’t likely extend funding for an alternative LIP program if the state doesn’t expand Medicaid.

He also suggested Scott’s tax cut and other priorities could take a hit given the uncertainty over LIP and the state health care budget, which takes up about 30 percent of the overall budget.

“The Senate also shares the Governor’s commitment to tax relief and record funding for education; however, if our state is forced to make up the difference of $2.2 billion in hospital funding, every area of our budget will be impacted,” Gardiner said.

Mainly because the Senate has built both the expansion plans and an alternative LIP plan into its budget and the House includes neither in its spending plan, the two chambers are $4.2 billion apart. And since House leaders are so staunchly opposed to expansion, the budget talks are at an impasse before they’ve even begun.

Meanwhile, Scott and state lawmakers are hoping to negotiate a deal with the federal government to provide an alternative to LIP. Those talks are bogged down as well, however.

Florida Agency for Health Care Administration secretary Liz Dudek released a statement last week saying CMS had cut off LIP negotiations; CMS retorted that was incorrect, they were still in touch with state officials.

(c)2015 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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22 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila April 7, 2015

    Considering the much of the cost will be covered by the Federal government, you have to wonder what is really the goal for the Grand Ayatollah of healthcare fraud in the USA. During his re-election campaign he hinted that he was leaning towards the MEDICAID expansion, now that he was re-elected he goes back to his old agenda of gutting education and denying healthcare coverage to close to a million Floridians who cannot afford high insurance premiums, to be able to attract corporate investment in Florida by giving them tax breaks. There is nothing wrong with attracting corporate investment to create jobs, but there is something very wrong when a Governor rejects an option that would help 800,000 citizens get the healthcare they need when doing so would have minimal budgetary impact on the state.

    Reply
    1. johninPCFL April 7, 2015

      I really wonder why these despots don’t recognize that the Federal money for these programs is the return of OUR TAX MONEY. Why do they have such a desire for OUR TAX MONEY to be sent to other states?

      1. Dominick Vila April 7, 2015

        Particularly when there is little control over how the States are going to spend our tax dollars. I bet Republicans will have no problem with the mini-ACAs run by State governments, and there will be no claims of socialism, liberalism, or redistribution of wealth.

  2. hjs3 April 7, 2015

    Just from an historical perspective would you want this man anywhere near health care funds period? I don’t care where they come from either…Vagueries and lack of transparency are this guy’s calling cards.

    Reply
  3. charleo1 April 7, 2015

    Governor Scott is a member of a powerful Conservative minority in this Country. Who have a fundamental philosophical belief, that no one should receive anything, not food, housing, job training, education, even life saving medical care, they can’t somehow figure out how to pay for at 100% of the prevailing market rate. This philosophy for these Darwinian ideologues, who do view the World quite differently than the majority of us. Are in their minds, and essentially compassionless hearts, the true protectorates of liberty as they claim to understand it. Just as they claim to hold these principles as sacrosanct. So, in their World, if a child develops cancer, and the parents are unable to pay for the expensive treatment. The State, in the philosophy of such ideological elitists as Governor Scott, has no obligation, no moral imperative, nor, is any greater public good served, by that State stepping in, and using it’s wherewithal on behalf of the dying child. Absolutely not! In their estimation, this moral hazard that has been created by just such government action over the years, has everything to do with what they see as the root of our most grievous problems. Namely, they will tell you, the growing government dependency of the working class. And all the lack of industriousness, and loss of work ethic, and sense of entitlement to that for which they have not labored, or sufficiently labored, flows from that. And, they, by God, intend to stop it. If a broader lesson is learned by the deaths of a few children, which I think they at some level do regret. But in the end, they believe the society they want to see created, will be worth the sacrifices. The fact people other than than themselves must suffer these cruel sacrifices, is seen as altogether fitting, and as it should be. Even, they will tell you, as God the Creator, “By the sweat of his brow, Himself intended. Leading the pretext of a faux, yet entirely plausible school of thought, to the zero sum moralists, Who hold wealth, or the lack of it, as the rightful arbiter as to the true value of an individual’s life.

    Reply
    1. Wedge Shot April 7, 2015

      The guillotine solved that same problem a couple of hundred years ago.
      I am sharpening my blade what about you?

      1. charleo1 April 7, 2015

        You know something? Up until six years ago, I thought Republicans were just a pack of narcissistic, parsimonious pricks. Who sold themselves like whores to other, equally pathetic, and self serving, gluttons. That were colluding to leach off every honest, hard working person in the Country. But now, I really don’t like them!

    2. Dominick Vila April 7, 2015

      When it comes to Rick Scott, the term Darwinian ideologue is way too mild. The founder and former CEO of Columbia HCA should be serving time in jail, instead of sitting in the Florida Governor’s mansion.

      1. charleo1 April 7, 2015

        Darwinian ideologue. You’re right it was too mild. It was a beautiful morning, and I was feeling generous I guess! Ha! Yes, Rick Scott sitting in the Governor’s Mansion. His campaign generously funded with the spoils of his thievery. While a 17 year old is tried as an adult for an ounce of pot. And is saddled with a felony for the rest of his days. Money rules, justice is trounced. And so it goes, the rich still wallow in their phony victimhood.

        1. jmprint April 7, 2015

          While the religiouse cult vote for them.

          1. dpaano May 11, 2015

            The evangelical Christians are an embarrassment to us REAL Christians!!!

          2. jmprint May 11, 2015

            I totally agree, when people start thinking they are above God, we have problems.

  4. Joe blow April 7, 2015

    Just another lying Republican politician who support giving 92 BILLION, yes BILLION, to corporate welfare and opposed to 52 BILLION to social welfare programs…..but you fcking ignorant republicans back these fools so you get what you get. The completely ignorant part of this is, you’re voting for the very people that will take away your checks, especially the scumbags in La. Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Floriad….what a bunch of dumb fcks.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Jones April 7, 2015

      They’ve been kept poor and uninformed for a generation now, and being poor is injurious to cognitive development..

      1. dpaano May 11, 2015

        This is how the GOP keeps it’s base…..lies and scare tactics!!! Works every time!

    2. dpaano May 11, 2015

      I probably could have said it better, but you’re absolutely correct!!!

  5. johninPCFL April 7, 2015

    “While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care,”: of course, then he won re-election. Now, like the “700,000 jobs” promise from his first campaign, it can be abandoned safely.

    Reply
  6. Wedge Shot April 7, 2015

    Rick Scott does not care about anyone in Florida but the rich. He is one the most despicable governors in the country second only to Scott Walker. His company cheated Medicare out of 1.6 billion dollars and he walked away “Scott free” What is it with the name Scott anyway?
    Why do we have to put up with these crooked politicians anyway. Give us a break.

    Reply
    1. dpaano May 11, 2015

      Unfortunately, you have to put up with them because uninformed voters have elected them!!!

  7. Daniel Jones April 7, 2015

    Rich Scott has only one position.. a hand held out for whatever he can get.

    Reply
  8. AlfredSonny April 8, 2015

    Isn’t it illegal for prostitutes or politicans to sell their souls?

    Reply
  9. Wedge Shot April 8, 2015

    I don’t want Florida to take these funds from the Federal Government for one reason: Floridians need to clearly understand that the Republicans don’t care one iota about the working person or poor in Florida. All they want is to collect taxes from them, pay the least wage possible, force them to pay the highest tuition for college, hindering advancement, violating constitutional requirements such as redistricting and Florida forever amendment 1, which passed last year, and generally screwing every Floridian to the greatest extent possible. The Republicans are getting bolder and bolder about ignoring voters and laws. They throw it in our face year after year and say, in effect, Fu&& you stupid voters we don’t care anything about laws and the Florida constitution. We are the ruler’s, God’s and kings and you are peasants so bow down to us and shut up. No one cares about you or what you think; just reproduce and create a new pool of future slaves that we can use for whatever purpose we want.

    Reply

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