The Republicans legislature of Florida has found away to get themselves in a really tough spot. They have turned against Governor Rick Scott who after years of opposing the Affordable Care Act, decided to endorse a key provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the Medicaid Expansion provision. The Medicaid Expansion provision allows the state to change the eligibility requirement of the state to match the federal poverty guidelines starting at 133% to 400%. Increasing the eligibility requirements of the states Medicaid program would allow as close to one million individuals in Florida to receive Health care, bring in 20 billion dollars to the states budget, as well as create thousands of Health care related jobs to the state.
While the pros seem to outweigh the cons this is forcing the Republican house to have second thoughts about their decision to battle Rick Scott on the Medicaid Expansion program. This week it was discovered the republicans are attempting to come up with their own option or alternative to a Medicaid Expansion program. Options that would allow them to modify the states Medicaid program on their own terms, compared to those specified by the Affordable Care Act. The chairman of the House committee on the Affordable Care Act , Richard Corcoran has admitted to not having a plan or any direction of how they would do that, but critics of this idea are concerned that Florida’s attempts to circumvent the Federal Medicaid Expansion provision with an alternate may lead to something that’s subpar, as well as loose the billions of federal dollars complying with the law would bring.
Meanwhile the state senators in Florida indicated that they would support the governors requests to expand Medicaid for the next three years when the federal government would cover 100% of the additionally enrollees in the program. As a result they Republican house is now in a bind to find an alternative that is equal to the benefits the state would receive by adhering to the Medicaid Provision of the Affordable Care Act.
The state house is paying close attention to Arkansas, Iowa, and Indiana. These are states working with the federal government to create a modify alternative to the requirements of the Health Insurance Exchange, and the Medicaid Expansion provision. While Arkansas has not finalized the plan it will submit to the department of Health and Human Services for approval its hard at work on an alternative to the Health Insurance Exchange requirements put in place by the HHS. The state of Indiana have stated they would not partake in Medicaid Expansion unless the Federal Government provide the opportunity to use the states Health Saving account base system known as “Healthy Indian Plan”, and currently Iowa is investigating the idea of increasing the size and funding of the states Iowa care program, a program to support health care for low-income individuals as an alternative to Medicaid Expansion.
While there is no set timeline for the state to make a decision on this matter everyone involves realizes the sooner the better. Any alternative the state house comes up with still has to be approved by Governor Rick Scott. When asked about the houses plan, Governor Scott said “ Were having a conversation, I was clear about what I will do”
The Chief Financial Officer of Florida Jeff Atwater said Florida and the other states might eventually agree to some form of Medicaid expansion, but confirmed the bind that the republican house was in. Stating, “growing Medicaid will bring additional costs, but not accepting the federal money could have steep consequences as well because of the hospital cuts”