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Senate Democrats warn against changes to Medicaid program

Senate Democrats are attempting to preemptively push back again any potential changes to Medicaid put forward by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP Legislature.

Democrats have long criticized the previous administration for declining to expand the state’s Medicaid system under the Affordable Care Act. Now, Senate Dems are criticizing DeSantis’ choice to head the administration that administers Medicaid, as well as signs the GOP could push for a Medicaid block grant.

“We know that where there’s a block grant, there’s always a ‘block’ that gets left out,” said Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson.

“We don’t need ‘increased flexibility.’ That’s just bureaucratic speak for cutting eligibility, services, or provider payments and putting up barriers like time limits or onerous work requirements.”

Gibson made clear the minority party opposes any push to move to a block grant system after Senate President Bill Galvano floated the idea.

“I think it is a positive that Governor-elect DeSantis has that relationship with the [Donald Trump] administration because that does provide some opportunity [on block grant funding],” Galvano told POLITICO Florida.

“I just want to proceed with caution and, again, with the idea that we have to have quality care as well as affordable and accessible.”

Gibson also pushed back on DeSantis’ choice to hire Mary Mayhew as head of the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees Medicaid.

Mayhew previously opposed Medicaid expansion while serving as as the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. She then was hired by the Trump administration, but is leaving after just three months to take the job here in Florida.

Gibson criticized Mayhew’s past decisions regarding the Medicaid program, calling her hiring “alarming.”

“We share the goals with our Republican colleagues of ensuring that all Floridians have access to high-quality, affordable health care, and using taxpayers’ money wisely,” Gibson said.

“But we disagree strongly on how to get there.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to



  1. Kathy

    January 12, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    My suggestion to the Florida GOP is to stay low and not change or rock the boat before the 2020 presidential election. Anything like changing up Medicaid with ideas like a ‘block grant’ will only ensure them losing more seats and power. Even just attempting to do it will damage the party. They barely won the governors office and fed Senate seat while losing ground (and races) in other parts. Do they not realize they won the governors office by less than the amount of people that go to a Dolphins game out of millions of votes? The last thing the party needs is to push it and give the Democrats the kind of help they need to win in 2020. Just look at what happened in Maine after Mayhew was left to her agenda by Gov. Lepage. Maine is now in Democrat hands. From the looks of it though Republican Bill Galvano isn’t to bright and will hand the Democrats free wins all over the place with his ‘floating ideas’.

    • Voncile

      January 14, 2019 at 7:55 pm

      Kathy, the ‘vote’ was only ‘close’ because of only two counties, Brevard and Palm Beach.
      If Gov. DeSantis and the Republican Party of Florida work together to clean up those two counties, the GOP will be in fine shape on 2020.
      To his credit, Gov. DeSantis is already doing his part by recognizing the problems and replacing that liberal sheriff Israel in Broward but he needs to continue on. There is more work to be done.
      And…. he needs help from the Fla. RNC!

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