House GOP Leaders Remain Skeptical of Scott’s Medicaid Acceptance
Around the State
With dawn came little change in the mindset on the GOP side of the House over Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for Florida to accept -- for at least three years -- the expansion of Medicaid under the federal health-care law.
Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the Legislature must be measured in the review of the process that must first go before the House Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“Personally, I remain skeptical but that is the right position for the state to go in,” McKeel said Thursday morning.
The chairman of the select committee, Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, had earlier stated that his committee “has and will continue to have separate discussions on that issue and will make a principled recommendation in the best interest of all Floridians.”
On Wednesday, Scott stunned supporters in announcing he will ask legislators to approve a bill that expands Medicaid for three years, as long as the program remains 100 percent funded by the federal government. At the end of three years, when the federal program is to require a 10 percent state match, legislators would have to deem if the program should be renewed, he said.
The proposal could add about 1 million people to the Medicaid rolls in Florida by expanding the eligibility to individuals and families earning up to 138 percent of poverty, a projection that has been estimated to cost Florida between $3 billion and $8.9 billion over the next decade -- depending upon the source.
Scott’s announcement came hours after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave an “agreement in principle” to the second of Florida’s two requested Medicaid waivers that would give the Sunshine State more flexibility in operating the service for the poor in Florida.
Not every member of the GOP was pushing themselves away from the governor.
“The governor has come to recognize that we have a responsibility to help those that have no access to even primary care” Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, stated in a release. “My hope is my colleagues in the Florida Legislature will do the same for the little guy and gal of Florida.”
But House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, bluntly issued a release on Thursday -- as Scott was to make his announcement to the media -- asserted the “Florida Legislature will make the ultimate decision.’
“I am personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of health care in our state and ensure our long-term financial stability,” Weatherford stated in a release.
Weatherford added that he expected his own select committee on the health care law to make recommendations “based on principle and rooted in facts.”
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.