On March 11, 2013 a week following the Florida House’s decision to not back Governor Rick Scott’s desire to expand Medicaid in Florida, the State Senate also rejected the Medicaid Expansion request. This decision has dramatically decreased the likelihood of the state of Florida accepting the standard Medicaid Expansion provision currently part of the Affordable Care Act. Even though the Governor still support and advocates Medicaid expansion for the state, two of the three legislative branches of the state has turned down the bill.
The State Senate committee voted 7 to 4 to reject the Medicaid Expansion bill presented by the Governor. The democrats on the committee voted for the expansion but did not have enough votes to continue the Medicaid Expansion battle within the state legislature. The committee instead wants to explore the possibility of putting an alternative plan on the table. The Senate committee wants to accept the funds from the Federal Government on different terms than what is currently being offered. They wish to use the Medicaid Expansion funds to get low-income individuals into a private health care plan. Its still unclear how that would work.
It is also still unclear on whether the Department of Health and Human Services will accept such a plan, late last year the department of HHS had provided clear indication that Medicaid Expansion was an all or nothing approach for the states, but since then several states including Indiana, Ohio, and Arkansas have been working on providing alternative solutions to the department of HHS when it comes to Medicaid Expansion. These states wants the funds that comes along with Medicaid Expansion without having to follow the terms provided by the federal government.
Recently the department of HHS accepted an alternative plan provided by the Governor of Arkansas Mike Beebe, which has given a signal of hope to other states that are trying the same approach.
While this vote was not exactly what democrats and advocates of Medicaid Expansion in the state wanted, it is considered a much better alternative to a complete rejection of the bill. The alternative proposal is currently in the works, but once the proposal is drafted it will have to be presented to the state house (Also working on their own alternative plan) for a vote. While all this work is being done, there is no guarantee the department of HHS will approve the final alternative plan.