Gov. Rick Scott and state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, wrote columns for U.S. World and News Reports Debate Club series arguing for and against Medicaid expansion in Florida.
The essays come as Floridas top economists, sitting as the Social Services Estimating Conference, will look at the long-term expenditures of Medicaid, and expected impact of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, on Friday.
While Scott and many GOP leaders are opposed to accepting Medicaid expansion, the debate among Florida lawmakers will continue throughout the year.
Since 2009, I've advocated free-market reforms of patient choice, competition, accountability, and personal responsibility to lower health care costs, Scott wrote in his piece titled Medicaid Expansion Would Strain State Budgets.
That's the real problem with our system, Scott added. If we can make health care more affordable and help people get jobs, more people will have access to the care they need, and we won't overburden the nation's taxpayers in the process.
Scott was joined by Michael Tanner, author of "Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law," and Grace-Marie Turner, president of Galen Institute, in opposing the expansion.
Randolph was joined in support of expanding the federal program by Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now; Rick Mayes, associate professor of Public Policy at the University of Richmond; and Maggie Mahar, author of "Money-Driven Medicine: the Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much."
Expansion of Medicaid in Florida is estimated to cost $2.2 billion per year over the next decade, with nearly all of the expense -- about $2 billion a year -- available from the federal government. However, the middle class and those with private insurance already pick up that cost because it's currently received through high-cost hospital care, Randolph wrote in his essay titled "Giving Healthcare to the Poor Lowers Health Costs for Everyone."
Floridians pay $600 million each year in special property taxes for hospitals to mostly cover uninsured care. The state gives nearly $1 billion every year to hospitals through low-income pools. The federal government gives nearly $1 billion every year to safety-net hospitals in Florida. Local governments spend millions more.
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