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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Will the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott Expand Medicaid?

“There’s a lot of unnecessary human suffering, and ultimately somebody has to pay for that. Really, it’s a great tragedy. I hope we can get policymakers to see the rational of giving people back their money,” says Florida Senator, Thad Altman, R-Viera.

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Florida has the second highest percentage of uninsured people in the country, and our governor is not trying to bring back money to the state that is sitting on the federal table. Texas has the highest number of uninsured residents in the country, and both governors are Republican, and they are hurting their citizens. Their thinking or their logic makes no sense, but they both won their election.

Florida is at risk of losing about $1.3 billion in federal funds used to reimburse hospitals from a special pot of supplemental money known as the Low Income Pool or LIP program. The LIP is scheduled to end by June 30, 2015, and Florida’s large public hospitals would be the first to be devastated. The primary residents impacted by the LIP program are the poor and uninsured.

Since Florida legislators have refused to expand the eligibility criteria for Medicaid under the ACA, the state could stand to lose billions of dollars to public hospitals. In Brevard County refusing to expand Medicaid would mean the hospitals and the residents are losing $114 million annually. This information was given by health care experts at a forum last week.

When Florida decided not to participate in the expanded Medicaid program, it left 750,000 state residents in the “Medicaid Gap.” The Medicaid Gap is when you make too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid, and not enough to qualify for subsidies. The residents who fall into these situations remain uninsured, and cannot get good medical care.

The Florida Legislature declined to participate in the expanded Medicaid program, because they thought it was too expensive, even though the federal government is paying 100 percent of the cost from 2014 to 2017. After 2017, Florida would be forced to pay 10 percent of the cost until 2020. There is an urgent need in Florida to get the federal funding from the expanded Medicaid program, but our legislators are ignoring the demands of the majority of residents.

The Florida Medical Association and the Florida Hospital Association supports the expansion of the Medicaid program. In some political circles, many political experts say that the majority of the Florida Senate and Governor Scott also support the expansion of the Medicaid program. But, everyone appears to be quiet, and the Republicans that control both Houses want to remain unified.

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Floridians are suffering and it is time for our political leaders to do the right thing, and support the expanded Medicaid program. There are billions of dollars earmarked for Florida sitting on the federal table. The session starts in March and Floridians must contact their representatives now, and tell them to vote for the expanded Medicaid program.

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