GOP to hold hearing on ObamaCare ‘coercion’

House Republicans will hold a hearing this summer on alleged attempts by the Obama administration to force Florida into accepting the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) made the announcement Tuesday after a meeting in Washington with lawmakers. The discussion included Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“The committee’s hearing will bring much-needed attention to the Obama Administration’s disappointing political power play at the expense of the healthcare of low-income families in our state,” Scott said in a statement.

{mosads}Scott has sued the administration, arguing it is withholding funds for the Low Income Pool program to reimburse hospitals for treating the uninsured in an effort to force Florida into expanding Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for the poor.

The administration says Florida is free to decide on Medicaid, but that the LIP funds should not be used for costs that would otherwise be covered under Medicaid expansion. 

Scott had a series of meetings on Capitol Hill Tuesday with Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation, as well as Upton and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), according to the governor’s schedule. 

“What I’ve been asking for is, I’d like them to consider putting out statements, making phone calls, writing letters,” Scott told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’m appreciative that Chair Upton is going to hold hearings on this.”

He added that members so far have been “very supportive.”

Asked why he was not meeting with any Democrats, he said, “What do you think are the chances they’re going to help me? They’re sitting there trying to expand ObamaCare.”

Scott has begun planning for not receiving any federal LIP funds. The Department of Health and Human Services said last week that Florida’s $2.2 billion proposal appears too big and not tailored to avoid covering costs that would be covered by Medicaid expansion.

But HHS also pointed out that the proposal is still under public comment, a step before a formal decision can be made, and said it was continuing to engage with Florida. HHS officials said Tuesday that this position has not changed from last week. 

Asked Tuesday why he could not make a deal with HHS to reduce the size of the LIP proposal to meet the administration’s requirements, Scott said, “We’ve been talking to HHS for the last year, we can’t get an answer out of them, so what they’ve done is, their answer is no.”

The Florida legislature is deadlocked on the issue, with state Senate Republicans in favor of Medicaid expansion and House Republicans against it. 

Scott said that a “base budget” without LIP funds or Medicaid expansion, appears to be the most likely option at a special session in June. 

This story was updated at 4 p.m.

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