Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Democratic lawmakers mount another attempt to expand Medicaid

medicaid-large
The GOP-controlled Legislature has rejected previous efforts to expand eligibility.

Sen. Shevrin Jones and Rep. Nick Duran are continuing Democrats’ years-long quest to expand Medicaid in Florida with a pair of new bills filed this week (SB 698 and HB 341).

The difference this year? Florida is dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The GOP-controlled Legislature has repeatedly rejected past efforts to open up Medicaid to more Floridians, citing the increased costs to the state. But Jones and Duran, a pair of South Florida Democrats, are arguing the pandemic should serve as a motivator to change course.

“Rather than cutting critical services in the midst of a public health crisis, we must make smart investments in our people because it’s the fiscally, and morally, responsible thing to do,” Jones said in a Friday statement.

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on why health care and treatment shouldn’t be tethered to employment status. We need to make sure that there are less — not more— barriers so that every Floridian can get the quality, accessible, and affordable health care they need to keep our communities safe and healthy.”

Florida is one of a handful of states that declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which Congress approved during the Barack Obama administration. Jones and Duran say the expansion would cover nearly 850,000 Floridians.

“Drawing down new federal Medicaid funds will be one of the fastest, proven-effective ways to deliver fiscal relief to Florida’s economy during this economic downturn,” Duran said.

“The new federal dollars will directly impact the health care care community, its vendors and its employees, but its economic ripples will go beyond the health care sector indirectly impacting small businesses, restaurants, gyms, personal and business services, and state and local governments.”

Those new federal dollars help pay for the program, but don’t cover all the costs. The ACA provides that if a state expands Medicaid eligibility, the federal government will foot all additional costs for the first few years. Over time, that will drop to 90% of the costs, with the state on hook for the remaining 10%.

That 10% chunk was enough to turn Republicans off to the plan, though Jones and Duran argue that ensuring Floridians are provided with health care can actually reduce costs to the state for individuals who currently seek care without any insurance.

Ryan Nicol

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 ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.


One comment

  • Ian

    January 23, 2021 at 9:59 am

    From the article:
    The ACA provides that if a state expands Medicaid eligibility, the federal government will foot all additional costs for the first few years. Over time, that will drop to 90% of the costs, with the state on hook for the remaining 10%.

    Reality:
    Nope. Under the ACA, the feds would pay 100% for individuals made newly-eligible under expansion for three years, starting in 2014, and then the percentage tapered down to 90% in 2020. This is 2021, so if Florida expands now, the feds pay 90% for newly-eligible individuals immediately. The window for 100% from the feds closed a few years ago.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704