Florida Senate attempts to end Medicaid expansion effort

Florida Senate attempts to end Medicaid expansion effort

Florida’s GOP-controlled state Senate is trying to kill an effort to place Medicaid expansion on the ballot.

The Senate is asking the state’s Supreme Court to dismiss a review of the potential ballot question because the advocacy group pushing for the measure did not collect enough signatures.

The group Florida Decides Healthcare initially aimed to have the Medicaid expansion measure appear on the 2020 ballot, but it failed to raise enough money after the state passed a new law that changed the way canvassers are paid.

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The group announced last summer that it is aiming to put the question on the 2022 ballot instead. As of Jan. 2, it only had 90,393 of the required 766,200 signatures.

Florida law allows signatures to be valid for two years, but the Senate argued that since there will be a presidential election in 2020, the criteria for placement on the 2022 ballot isn’t known. 

Florida law requires that ballot measures for constitutional amendments need a percentage of the total of votes cast in the previous presidential election. 

“It is conceivable that many of the signatures verified by the Division of Elections which supported this initial review will no longer be valid,” the Senate argued. 

Medicaid expansion would provide new coverage to roughly 445,000 Floridians, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Under ObamaCare, states have the option to take federal money to expand Medicaid to people earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which was about $17,236 for individuals in 2019. To date, 36 states and the District of Columbia have expanded coverage. 

Last fall, voters in three conservative states — Idaho, Nebraska and Utah — approved ballot initiatives to expand eligibility for Medicaid.