House Democrats again push for Medicaid expansion

medicaid expansion - fp
The group is calling for a federal fix to long-standing state inaction.

Democrats in the Florida House are again adding their voices to a push to have Congress expand Medicaid in states that have long opposed increasing the number of people eligible for safety net health care coverage.

All 41 House Democrats signed a letter calling on the U.S. Senate to include a fix to the Medicaid coverage gap in the budget resolution now under consideration.

As you begin drafting the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, we stand behind you in ensuring the inclusion of a coverage gap policy solution that is comprehensive and permanent,” reads the letter.  “This will help deliver affordable and equitable health care coverage with life-saving benefits to low-income residents and communities of color across the state of Florida. The time to act is now.”

Florida is one of 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid to low-income, childless adults under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated Medicaid expansion in Florida would cover as many as 805,000 uninsured residents.

“If the program were expanded in the state of Florida, without restrictions, Medicaid expansion, critical to accessing care, increases the probability of having a personal doctor, and decreases the likelihood of not seeing a doctor because of cost,” the letter reads. “This strategy decreases the disparities in access to and utilization of healthcare, quality of care and health outcomes, and medical costs by race and ethnicity as well as income.

While the Florida Legislature came close to expanding Medicaid twice — including once after then-Gov. Rick Scott said he was willing to consider it — the efforts ultimately failed amid fierce opposition from House Republicans.

In late July, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and 10 other Florida Democrats were part of a group of 35 that called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders to include a provision for Medicaid expansion in budget reconciliation legislation. 

The $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bills have been part of an ongoing tug-of-war between moderate and liberal factions of Democrats with ongoing questions about the overall cost and what will be included in the final version of the legislation.

The House Ways and Means committee is scheduled to begin its first markup of the bill on Thursday.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


One comment

  • Ian

    September 9, 2021 at 7:15 am

    The SCOTUS has already ruled that the feds cannot force states to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

    Here’s an easy fix. Instead of cutting off subsidies for anyone with an income below 100% of FPL, change Obamacare to provide an exception for those under 100% of FPL who live in states that have not expanded Medicaid. Then, persons currently in the coverage gap could get subsidized coverage through the federal exchange. Hooray!

    You’re welcome.

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