Times a Ticking for State Medicaid Expansion

The clock is ticking and when time runs out at the end of the year, Florida may give up 51 billion dollars on a Medicaid expansion plan. The League of Women Voters moderated a call Wednesday on the impacts of doing nothing.

“We want to make sure Florida is a very competitive state to do business. We want to make sure Floridians have the best possible healthcare,” said Jessica Lowe-Minor.

In February Governor Rick Scott shocked Republicans by announcing his support of the expansion.

“Quality healthcare should be accessible and affordable for all Floridians,” said Scott.

Medicaid expansion would provide benefits for 1 million working poor Floridians. The Florida Senate passed a bill supported by the Governor this spring, but House Republicans refused to consider the expansion and it died. Now there is talk of a special session this fall.

“We've learned we can't depend on Washington. So I'll be working with Speaker Weatherford and our other legislators to try and find a Florida solution,” said Sen. Don Gaetz.

A big concern is if state lawmakers decide not to accept the money, more than 100,000 high paying medical jobs may not come to Florida.

At a recent meeting in Sarasota, Representative Jim Boyd told nearly 300 people he believes lawmakers will “certainly have a lot of dialogue about it in going into the fall.”

Until then, the League of Women Voters will continue educating Floridians.

“We have been taking around our information to legislators who’ve done a lot of public events in communities,” said Minor.

If there isn’t a decision by January, Florida will lose the first 5 billion in federal funding.

24 states have decided to move forward with accepting the federal dollars, 20 have denied it and seven are still discussing.