Florida governor again changes course on Medicaid expansion

Florida governor again changes course on Medicaid expansion
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has again reversed his stance on expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare, which would use billions of federal dollars to extend coverage to about 800,000 people.

For the first time Monday, Scott turned his back on a Medicaid expansion plan that was recently proposed by Florida’s GOP-controlled Senate but had been rejected by its GOP-controlled House.


The governor said he withdrew support for the expansion out of distrust for the federal government. He pointed to frustration that the government said it will no longer reimburse Florida hospitals “to the level it is funded today” to treat low-income patients who can’t pay their bills, Scott wrote in a statement.

“It would be hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs that [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] could scale back or walk away from,” Scott’s office wrote in a statement.

The $2 billion pool of federal money, known as the Low Income Pool (LIP), expires this year. The administration has suggested that expanding Medicaid would lower the financial burden on hospitals, reducing the need for the LIP uncompensated care program.

The debate over Medicaid and LIP has intensified during the final weeks of the state’s annual budget-drawing process. State health officials had been deep in negotiations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) officials, though those talks halted around the recent holiday.

The governor’s opposition to a Medicaid deal is his second position change in three years.

Two years ago, Scott wrote in an op-ed that Medicaid expansion was “bad for states” because “we don't need the federal government telling us what to do when it comes to meeting the needs of the citizens of our states.”

But in February 2013, Scott said he backs an expansion of Medicaid, at least for the first three years.

“I’m not going to stand in the way of the federal government doing something,” he told the Miami Herald last month. He reiterated his stance throughout the fall 2014 elections, when his challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, said he backed Medicaid expansion.

Over the last several weeks, as both chambers debated Medicaid expansion, Scott was cautious not to reveal his position.