Medicaid Expansion Cost Confusion

One of the harshest critics of the Affordable Care Act, Governor Rick Scott entered the political conversation with one goal in mind; defeating Obamacare.

But a failed lawsuit in the US Supreme Court and a Republican defeat in the 2012 presidential election left Scott with little choice but to play ball, or so it seemed.

“We want to make sure everybody gets health care,” said Scott.

Florida has to go along with most of the new health care laws, although Scott will have to decide whether or not to participate in a Medicaid expansion and this is where his math gets tricky.

Originally state economists put a 10 billion dollar price tag on the expansion over a 10 year period. Then Scott, through the Agency for Health Care Administration, released a new estimate; 26 billion dollars. The new figure caught the ire of health care advocates and, after some bad press, AHCA changed its estimate to 3 billion.

Reporters questioned AHCA’s secretary about the conflicting numbers, but no explanation was given.

“At this point in time we’ve put out our numbers, our assumptions are there and I really don’t have any more to say about it,” said Elizabeth Dudek.

Health Care advocates say Scott is using the highest estimate to build a case against expanding Medicaid, even though the federal government has vowed to pickup the lion share of the cost.

So how did Scott come up with 26 billion dollars? The expansion would allow an extra 900-thousand Floridians claim Medicaid benefits. Scott’s estimate assumes every eligible person will enroll, then accounts for extra operating costs and a reduction in the amount of money the federal government pays. By the way, it would take an act of Congress for the feds to cut the contribution rate.