It’s the final week of the 2013 legislative session and Medicaid expansion is the elephant in the room.
For months lobbyists, unions and activists have been trying to convince state lawmakers to expand the entitlement. The expansion would extend coverage to 1.2 million Floridians and bring an estimated 51 billion dollars into the state’s economy.
“It would be good for the people of Florida, good for Florida businesses and good for the state,” said Bruce Ruben.
Ruben with the Florida Hospital Association came out early in favor of expanding Medicaid. Ruben’s joined by the Governor, the Senate and thousands of health care professionals.
“There are no groups down here who are opposed to it, it’s only become a political football. So what we hope is to see that resolved in these last few days of the legislative session,” said Ruben.
The lone holdout is House Speaker Will Weatherford. Activists have less than a week to change his mind.
About 50 people representing more than half a dozen health care groups lined up in front of the Florida House Monday. They say they’ll be here until the issue is decided or session ends.
“I am one of the ones that’s fighting not just for me, but for my family, my children, my people in the facility that their coverage has been cut,” said healthcare worker Vera Nelson.
I’m speaking for the uncovered.
“People are going to be healthier because they do have coverage so they won’t be so afraid to go and get the care they need,” said Toni Rosenburg, a retired healthcare worker.
If session ends without a deal… that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Lawmakers could comeback in special session to expand Medicaid.
“So I think anything is possible. There is plenty of time,” said Rep. Don Gaetz.
Most involved would rather see a deal by Friday.
Both chambers have passed plans to expand coverage, but the House’s version doesn’t use any of the money offered by the federal government and only covers an extra 115,000 people compared to more than a million in the Senate.