Rick Scott Gets Rejected on Medicaid Expansion

Published March 11, 2013

Florida Governor Rick Scott got a lot of grief for announcing his intentions to accept President Obama’s Medicaid expansion. But now the Florida legislature has rejected him in what could be the first of many votes on the issue.

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a potential death blow on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee.

The Senate Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act voted 7-4 to reject the expansion, with all Republican members of the committee voting against the plan championed by Scott.

A House legislative committee rejected the expansion last week, with the Senate committee’s vote its final rejection unless political leaders agree to present a new compromise bill later in the current legislative session.

“I am confident that the legislature will do the right thing and find a way to protect taxpayers and the uninsured in our state while the new healthcare law provides 100 percent federal funding,” Scott said in a statement issued by his office after Monday’s vote.

Scott, a Republican who bitterly fought President Barack Obama’s national healthcare plan as a candidate and in his first two years as governor, did not elaborate.

The Florida expansion is key for the Obama administration — it would cover millions of people, and it wouldn’t come cheap:

An estimated 3.35 million of Florida’s 19.1 million residents receive Medicaid this year, according to the legislature’s Office of Economic and Democratic Research.

An expansion under the federal law — which increases eligibility for a family of four earning as much as $31,800 this year — would increase that by 1.28 million during the next 10 years, according to a November 2012 report from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, a nonprofit group that researches health care.

Obama’s health law, which passed Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote, may extend insurance over the next decade to about 27 million people who are currently uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 8 million more will enroll in Medicaid programs next year because of the expansion.

Expansion in Florida would cost the federal government an estimated $66.1 billion during the next 10 years, according to the Kaiser report. The state’s cost during that time would be about $5.36 billion, according to the report.

We shall see whether Scott redoubles his efforts. Florida’s health care providers certainly will.