Bill Nelson blasts government of Florida for not expanding Medicaid

Bill Nelson

Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Tuesday blasted “the government of my state, the state of Florida,” for not expanding Medicaid, during a speech on the Senate floor.

Nelson did not name names beyond that, but his reference to the government could be directed at his opponent in this year’s U.S. Senate election, Gov. Rick Scott, who once, briefly, supported the federal offer to expand Medicaid in Florida under the Affordable Care Act, then backed down, and then turned against it.

In 2015 Florida rejected the offer that would have provided billions of dollars to Florida on a matching and sliding scale, to cover an estimated 800,000 residents who make too much money to qualify for existing Medicaid programs and not enough to afford insurance.

“There’s almost $5 billion a year that is sitting on the shelf,” Nelson said, “that is Florida taxpayer money that is going elsewhere.

“In my state of Florida, that is 800,000 people, almost a million people, poor people, disabled folks that would be getting health care,” Nelson continued. “What do they do? They end up going to the emergency room.”

Nelson’s blast came in a friendly exchange with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, the Alabama Democrat elected last fall in a special election, who began by criticizing his own state’s refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion.

Nationally, 18 states including Florida and Alabama turned down the federal expansion program authorized through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Kerri Wyland, spokeswoman for Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign, responded, “If Bill Nelson is truly concerned about healthcare services for Floridians, he should propose real solutions instead of campaigning from the Senate floor.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • Darcy G Richardson

    May 23, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Senator Nelson is absolutely correct.

    The politically-charged and mean-spirited refusal of Gov. Rick Scott and Florida state lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of Floridians under the Affordable Care Act is simply unforgivable, a breathtakingly callous and cold-hearted position which has unnecessarily burdened Florida’s private and public hospitals for the past eight years.

    It’s particularly disturbing since that denial of Medicaid coverage came from a guy whose personal fortune was derived, in large part, from his role in what was then the largest Medicare fraud case in American history — a scandal in which his health care company ripped off U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $1.7 billion.

    Why Floridians, who inexplicably elected this Martian-looking misanthrope as governor — not once, but twice — remains something of a mystery, but why they would seriously consider sending him to the U.S. Senate simply baffles the mind.

  • Carol Hinkley

    May 23, 2018 at 10:28 am

    I’ve got to agree with Darcy on this one. Thousands of residents flock to Florida emergency rooms because they can’t afford medical coverage thanks to our inflated and corrupt healthcare system. This crowds emergency rooms with non-emergency cases because what else are they to do in that situation? We like to keep the poor, poor instead of building them up and encouraging them to reach financial stability. The real kicker is the fact that Gov. Scott has millions ripping off taxpayers through Medicaid. Get this guy out of here.

  • Kelli Marie Dussault

    June 1, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Most of the poor in this state do not even qualify for Medicaid. Men who have no income do not qualify, because poor men don’t need health insurance? Only children do and mothers? In other states men are considered worthy of life, but not here in florida. I have a friend who needs surgeries, who has cancer cells and Gov Scott knows about this and he doesn’t care that he does not qualify for medical insurance. Scott only cares about helping the rich. He is too busy passing bills to privatize our beaches, all while sick people are dying here in the state of FL. We have the worst health care and in my case as a single mother who is disabled with a disabled child, it has gotten so bad, and our case is being investigated for fraud.. There is fraud, the evidence is clear and convincing. We have considered moving out of state and other victims are as well… Yes it is that bad.

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