Playing it safe or playing politics, however you explain Governor Rick Scott’s estimate of a Medicaid expansion one thing is for sure, it’s creating controversy.
State economists put a 10 billion dollar price tag on the expansion made optional by the Affordable Care Act. One figure from the Agency for Health Care Administration lowers the cost to three billion, but Scott made national headlines last week by touting a 26 billion dollar estimate.
Scott entered politics to defeat the new health care laws, but a failed lawsuit in the nation’s highest court and a defeat for Republican in the 2012 presidential election left him little choice but to play ball except when it comes to extending Medicaid to an additional 900,000 Floridians. Each state can opt out of the extension.
Democrats think Scott is inflating the cost to build a case against expansion.
“By overestimating it, it will seem like a weight to the people of Florida and at the same time something that’s not sustainable and fundable,” said Senator Eleanor Sobel of Broward County.
Last week, the women Scott picked to lead AHCA refused to explain the conflicting estimates so we asked why.
“The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has put out different numbers based on assumptions, now the questions is, is the federal government going to fund what they’ve said they are going to fund?” answered Governor Scott.
Since the feds have already agreed to pay a huge portion of the expansion, to get to the 26 billion dollar mark, Congress would actually have to change the law. Scott cites the recent fiscal cliff battle as proof it’s possible.
Both the House and Senate held committee meetings Monday about how Florida will participate in the Affordable Care Act. Those committees will have to decide which estimate to accept before they make a decision about whether or not to expand Medicaid and of course if lawmakers do choose to expand that decision would then have to approved by Governor Scott.