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Feds hope there’s pressure to expand Medicaid, White House senior advisor says

A senior advisor to President Barack Obama on Thursday expressed optimism that Florida would take the plunge and expand Medicaid and praised the state for leading the nation in the number of Obamacare enrollees.

“We are seeing increasing willingness to expand Medicaid,” said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. “We hope that there’s increasing pressure on those states that have not expanded Medicaid, particularly when they are right next door to a state that has.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation there are 29 states, including Washington, D.C, that have expanded Medicaid. It is under consideration in another seven states. Fifteen states — including Florida — are categorized by Kaiser as not expanding Medicaid at this time.

The two states that border Florida — Georgia and Alabama — also are not expanding Medicaid.

Jarrett was was joined on the conference call by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and freshman state Rep. Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, and a member of the House Health Quality Subcommittee.

It was the second press conference in as many days scheduled by the Obama administration to discuss Florida’s experience with the federal health care law.

More than 1.3 million Floridians have purchased an Obamacare plan through the federal health insurance market place.  “That’s more than any other state,” Jarrett said of Obamacare enrollment.  “So hats off to Florida.”

Jarrett said despite more than 1.3 million Floridians signing onto Obamacare plans there still are folks who need to get coverage and aren’t aware it’s available. Open enrollment ends February 15.

“Too many Americans still need to receive coverage and aren’t aware of the fact it’s just a few clicks away or a phone call away,” Jarrett said.

Mayor Buckhorn said Tampa was going to go to the “nth degree” in the final days of Obamacare enrollment to make sure as many eligible people enroll in the program.

Buckhorn–who is married to an obstetrician/gynecologist–said accessing the Obamacare plans is a “life changing experience” for the uninsured.

Jacobs, a freshman and a former mayor, said there has been a push in South Florida from volunteers  to ensure people understood their options. That, she said, is why South Florida is leading all other Metropolitans Statistical Areas nationwide for Obamacare enrollment.

She also said here is a softening in the “hard headedness” of the Florida Legislature when it comes to a Medicaid expansion.

Buckhorn  supports the bipartisan-developed plan called A Healthy Florida Works, a Medicaid expansion with caveats. He said the only people in Florida who oppose a Medicaid expansion are members of the Florida Legislature.

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