With the Florida House rejecting Medicaid expansion on Friday at the close of the first week of a special session, groups across the Sunshine State reacted to the vote.
The debate over accepting federal dollars for Medicaid expansion set up under President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law divided the two chambers of the Legislature during the regular session. Despite both being under Republican control, the Senate has supported accepting Medicaid expansion while the House stood with Gov. Rick Scott against it.
With Friday’s vote effectively killing Medicaid expansion, conservatives celebrated.
Chris Hudson, the Florida director for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), cheered the news on Friday night and singled out Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, for praise.
“Floridians were heard, and the House took strong action today under Speaker Crisafulli’s leadership,” Hudson said on Friday night. “There can be no doubt that the Florida House made the best decision for Floridians by opposing the Senate’s plan to expand Medicaid. The Senate’s proposal would have cost Floridians over $1 billion, and would have done nothing to address doctor shortages or quality of care. Floridians deserve the best care possible, so we will continue to fight for free-market solutions.”
Hudson noted his group rallied conservative activists across the state in opposition to Medicaid expansion and their efforts paid off.
“I also want to commend all of the activists who joined us in going door-to-door, phone banking, and traveling to Tallahassee to make their voices heard and educate Floridians about the policy battles we’re engaging in across the state,” Hudson said. “Our activists are the heartbeat of our organization and these victories belong to them.”
Bob McClure, the president and CEO of the James Madison Institute (JMI), a group fighting for free-market solutions, also cheered the vote.
"Today, the Florida House made the right decision to stop a plan that not only fell extremely short of addressing real systemic issues in Florida's health-care system, but would have ultimately presented state taxpayers a bill for billions, threatening the survival of other public priorities critical to our state,” McClure said. “Taking federal dollars from a government $18 trillion in debt was not a golden ticket for Florida, but a one-way ticket to disaster in the fight for Florida's future.”
McClure said that Florida now had the opportunity to make some major health-care reforms.
“Now it is time to come together to start chipping away at the many proposed solutions that will lower the cost of health care, increase access to health-care services, and improve health outcomes for all Floridians,” McClure noted. “People's ears will be filled with much rhetoric surrounding this decision today. However, the only thing they need to hear is that they deserved better than this plan and now Florida has the opportunity to take action without our strings further tied to the puppet-master federal government."
Leaders of liberal groups across the Sunshine State said the House put idealogy over the needs of Floridians.
Pamela Goodman, the president of the League of Women Voters, insisted “this is not a loss” and “we will not rest until the battle is won.” Despite leading an organization that describes itself as nonpartisan, Goodman noted 2016 was an election year and hoped the issue would resurface.
"We can only hope that 2016 -- an election year -- will make opponents find the compassion and the moral strength to take action on behalf of the less fortunate," Goodman said.
Leah Barber-Heinz, the CEO of Florida Community Health Action Information Network (CHAIN), also took aim at the decision.
“Today Florida had the opportunity to accept billions in health-care dollars so that nearly 1 million Floridians could get access to lifesaving health coverage,” Barber-Heinz said. “Working moms and dads, veterans, students, and people with disabilities would have finally been able to sleep at night, knowing that if need be, they could afford to go to a doctor. The local economy would have gotten a needed boost with the influx in federal funds and the thousands of jobs it would have created. Our hospitals, a critical economic engine in many communities, would have been protected.
“Unfortunately, the leaders of the Florida House of Representatives again chose to turn their backs on the health needs of their constituents, the will of the people, businesses and hospitals they represent, and the viability of our local economies,” Barber-Heniz added. “Rather than bringing our hard-earned tax dollars back into Florida in order to save lives and protect our hospitals, House leaders made the shameful decision to vote against this vital piece of legislation.”
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