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Republican Governor Rick Scott Announces Support for ACA Medicaid Expansion in Florida

Yesterday, Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott threw his support behind adopting the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion in the state. The move would extend eligibility for the program to 138% of federal poverty, offering health coverage to an additional 1 million people in Florida. Scott’s decision is particularly noteworthy given his previous dogged opposition to the law.

Gov. Scott said, “While the federal government is committed to paying 100% of the cost, I cannot in good conscience deny Floridians that needed access to health care.” He joins the Republican governors of Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Ohio in moving forward to implement the ACA expansion.

Scott said that he supports implementing the expansion for its first three years, from 2014 to 2016, while it is 100% federally funded. Between 2016 and 2020, federal financial support for the expansion gradually descends to 90% and remains at that level thereafter. Scott said that he would recommend that the state evaluate whether to continue the expansion after 2016.

Scott made the announcement after receiving notification that Florida had received federal approval for two waivers that would allow statewide enrollment of Medicaid beneficiaries in private managed care plans. The Florida Medicaid program currently operates a pilot program in certain counties that has already implemented many of the changes in the waiver.

The Medicaid expansion will require approval of the Florida Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. Will Weatherford, speaker of the state House, expressed doubt about the decision, saying that he was “personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of health care in our state and ensure our long-term financial stability.” However, both Republican leaders in the Legislature said that they would review recommendations from a select committee that will assess the state’s options in advance of a final legislative decision.

 

Prepared by John Connolly (2/21/13)

For the full New York Times article on the topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/us/in-reversal-florida-says-it-will-expand-medicaid-program.html?_r=0