Senate alters health plan but fails to win over critics
Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner


The Senate on Tuesday announced a series of changes it will make to its plan to expand health care access to upward of 800,000 low-income Floridians who would qualify for Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

In a prepared statement Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott said that he still opposes Medicaid expansion as set for in the revised Senate plan:

“A budget that keeps Florida’s economy growing will cut taxes and give Floridians back more of the money they earn, not inevitably raise taxes in order to implement ObamaCare and grow government.”

Scott’s statement notes that his office “continue(s) to ask HHS” — the federal Department of Health & Human Services — for a response to the governor’s May 12 letter asking whether the state can pursue options to expand coverage that would require no additional state dollars.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli seemed unimpressed with the changes as well.

“The new version of FHIX still requires a waiver from the inflexible (f)ederal government and adds new elements to that waiver request, a request we know will never be approved,” Crisafulli said in a prepared statement. “When you remove the Senate’s ‘conservative guardrails’ that the Obama Administration fundamentally opposes, all you are left with is a costly and inefficient entitlement program to serve able-bodied working-age adults with no children. We would be far better off if Washington, D.C., would allow Florida to create our own plan.”

The Senate announced on Tuesday that it is filing an amendment to its proposal to used Medicaid funding to expand health care access to 800,000 uninsured Floridians. The strike-all amendment deletes a requirement that newly eligible Medicaid enrollees sign up for a Medicaid managed-care plan. Instead, it would allow them to purchase insurance via the federal health insurance exchange or use the state exchange called the Florida Health Choices program.

Americans for Prosperity also objected to the changes. State Director Chris Hudson, said the changes aren’t a compromise.  The Senate, Hudson said in a release, “is just dressing up a failed model from other states and hoping it sticks.”

Gardiner said he hops the plan changes will build a consensus around a “fiscally responsible” expansion of health care coverage, the release notes. ” The problem is there is a big difference between expanding quality health care coverage and expanding Medicaid. …. (T)he Senate should recognize that there is no fiscally responsible path to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.”

Christine Jordan Sexton


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