Government involvement in the healthcare industry has come under increased scrutiny following the Affordable Care Act, and in the state of Florida, the discussion about extending its Medicaid program has nearly reached a boiling point.
Governor Rick Scott has been working against the Florida Senate in his attempts to increase federal funding for Florida’s Medicaid program, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Federal administrators reportedly denied Florida’s request for additional funding one year ago, stating that Florida’s state-run Medicaid program was too weak and would need to be revamped first.
Now that lawmakers have worked closely with healthcare experts to increase the amount of care provided to residents who are under-insured or completely uninsured, Gov. Scott is hoping that the state will be eligible for approximately $51 billion worth of federal funds to its Medicaid program, paid out over the course of 10 years.
Many smaller communities and private businesses have voiced their support for increased funding as well. Healthcare workers have noted that the strain on hospital ERs would be substantially decreased if patients have health insurance, because about 48% of all ER visits aren’t actually emergencies — uninsured patients simply have nowhere else to go.
Specifically, Florida’s substantial Hispanic population is likely to benefit quite a bit if the Medicaid expansion is approved. According to Fox News Latino, at least 200,000 Latino Floridians would be able to receive health insurance under the expanded plan; these residents currently fall into a “gap” where their incomes are too high to qualify for the Medicaid insurance program, but too low to qualify for subsidies offered by federal insurance plans.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it’s estimated that about 1.3 million Latino Floridians currently lack health insurance. Lowering that number by 200,000 may not seem like a big improvement, but for the thousands of families that can’t afford even the most basic medical care, expanded eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program would certainly make a substantial difference.