Matt Hudson Takes to National Stage to Oppose Obamacare and Medicaid Expansion
Around the State
Florida Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, took to the national stage on Wednesday to take aim at President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law and weigh in on the Florida Legislature’s decision to not expand Medicaid.
One of the leading Republicans serving in the Legislature when it comes to health policy, Hudson, who was first elected to the Florida House in a special election in 2007, chairs the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and sits as vice chairman of the Select Committee on PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Hudson was up in Washington on Wednesday to testify at a joint hearing held by House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements and the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs on enacting Obama’s health care law.
Hudson defended the decision to oppose Medicaid expansion despite its support from the Obama administration and Gov. Rick Scott.
“Fundamentally, I believe the Medicaid expansion is a flawed approach to reduce the number of uninsured residents in Florida,” Hudson told the committees. “Rather than temporary assistance targeted to our most vulnerable residents, the optional Medicaid expansion would have created a new entitlement for able-bodied, working age adults without children.
“Expanding Medicaid to more than a million new individuals would undoubtedly make access problems worse,” Hudson added. “And those who would suffer most would be our most vulnerable residents, including our elderly population and those with disabilities. They would be forced to compete with able-bodied adults for a limited number of appointments.”
Hudson pointed to the increasing size of the Florida government’s budget set aside for Medicaid and warned that it will only increase down the road. “Even without expansion, Medicaid spending is crowding out funding for state priorities like education,” Hudson said. “More than 30 percent of our state budget goes to Medicaid. A little over a decade ago, it was half that. Expanding Medicaid would crowd-out even more of our resources. And even worse, it would prioritize our Medicaid resources on able-bodied, working-age adults, rather than on the most vulnerable.”
Hudson also had little use for Obama’s health care, insisting the Sunshine State will be ill-prepared to handle it and will face challenges in ensuring there will be enough medical personnel.
“Within the next five years, 5,810 (12.97 percent) of Florida’s 44,804 active physicians plan to retire, adding to the workforce shortage dilemma,” Hudson said. “Florida currently has a shortage of primary care physicians and would need 753 doctors just to eliminate the state’s 248 primary care crisis areas. The implementation of subsidized health insurance through the exchange, plus a PPACA Medicaid expansion, would generate the need for an additional 50,300 registered nurses to meet the demand for health care services in Florida.
“These shortages will affect access to health care negatively, both with regard to patient caseloads and price. Practitioners will have larger caseloads. Patients will have to wait longer for care and may have difficulty accessing the care they need. Increased demand for fewer resources leads to higher costs,” Hudson continued. “The federal government’s attempts to both increase access to care and reduce costs through PPACA will be thwarted by the failure to address workforce problems.”
Hudson insisted the health care law will add additional financial burdens to Florida families.
“Contrary to its name, PPACA fails to make health care more affordable and will price increasing numbers of Floridians out of the health care marketplace,” Hudson said. “Many individuals in the market today are seeing their premiums go up in order to subsidize others. It also means that the young and healthy are going to watch their premiums skyrocket in order to subsidize the old and sick. These provisions also make individuals buy more robust coverage than they currently have, want or even need. And the new taxes and fees on private insurance are simply being passed along to consumers.”
Hudson also slammed the federal government’s requirements in enacting the law.
“Federal timelines and a lack of information made the legislative process difficult,” Hudson said. “We were being forced to make this important decision before the federal government had addressed these and many other questions in either rules or guidance.”
Like Scott had focused on earlier in the week, Hudson insisted there are major privacy concerns with the federal government‘s relying on navigators to help enroll people.
“These exchanges -- and the people helping run the exchanges -- will be handling all kinds of personal information of consumers,” Hudson said. “Consumers will be handing over Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employment information, tax return information, and much more, not just for the applicants themselves, but for their entire families. This is more than enough personal information for consumers to have their identities stolen.”
“We passed a law in Florida that required the registration with the state of navigators which included background screenings, disqualifications for certain crimes, and penalties for improper actions,” Hudson added. “During session, the navigator grants had not been awarded, the navigator rules had not been finalized, and the navigator training had not been announced. We didn’t know, and frankly didn’t expect, how little training and oversight the navigators will receive or we would have passed an even more rigorous law in Florida.”
Hudson’s testimony to the committees drew fire from organized labor on Wednesday including from Monica Russo, the executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
“Representative Matt Hudson today testified that Medicaid expansion is wrong for taxpayers and patients,” Russo said. “What is really wrong is that Florida now ranks second in the nation in having the highest number of uninsured. Rep. Hudson and his buddies have adamantly refused to expand Medicaid and the $51 billion federal funding allotted to pay the bill, not to mention boost to our economy. He wants to talk about the rising cost of health care and the make-believe damage that will come from expanding Medicaid.
“The proof is in the pudding,” added Russo. “States that are fully implementing the Affordable Care Act are actually anticipating significant decreases in cost. Does Representative Hudson have a plan as to how to provide health care to the uninsured? The politics of no won’t save lives or cure cancer, and it won’t invigorate our economy.”
Russo slammed Hudson and the Republican leadership in Tallahassee.
“Instead of finding solutions to make the law of the land work, Representative Hudson and the extremists in the Florida House insist on going backward down a path that is not working to bring down health care costs in Florida,” Russo said.