Democrats pushing Medicaid expansion as key issue in 2018 election

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Democrats are pushing Medicaid expansion as one of the key issues in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

They say Governor Rick Scott’s decision not to accept federal money to expand the program has hurt Florida’s poor and left the state less healthy.

In 2013 Governor Rick Scott said he was in favor of accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act, but in the end, he sided with the Florida Legislature’s rejection of the federal aid.

“It's according to whether it's an election year or not as to what he has to say,” said Barbara DeVane with the National Organization for Women.

A recent report by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed Floridians without health insurance in 2017 had risen to 20 percent.

That means one out of five people in the state isn't covered.

“There's a huge number of people out there who would have benefited from access and coverage under the Medicaid program,” said Karen Woodall with the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.

A 2015 Senate proposal, opposed by Governor Scott, would have provided coverage for about 800,000 of the state’s working poor.

Democrats say the lack of coverage is making Florida a sicker state.

The Commonwealth Fund ranked Florida 47th in the nation based on a study of 43 healthcare metrics.

Florida has also joined a multi-state lawsuit aimed at repealing certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including some protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Scott told reporters Wednesday, “If you have a pre-existing condition you need to still be able to get healthcare.”

He stopped short of denouncing the suit.

“He's trying to have it both ways,” said Woodall. "You can't say, 'I believe that people with pre-existing conditions should not be denied,' and then support a lawsuit that will undo that.”

Democrats have launched what they call, “The Time is Now: Medicaid Expansion Tour”.

The campaign will travel the state highlighting Scott’s flip-flop on Medicaid Expansion.