While Experts Keep Calling for Expansion of Medicaid, Florida Republicans Ignore Vulnerable People’s Needs During Crisis

4 mins read

Today, an article from the Miami Herald reported on a recent paper from the New England Journal of Medicine recommending expansion of Medicaid in states like Florida under a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the study, expanding Medicaid coverage would help states respond better to the national coronavirus health care emergency, by helping millions of people who need health care coverage in this crisis. 
Unfortunately, a bill that would have helped expand Medicaid in Florida, and cover 800,000 Floridians, failed to pass the Republican-controlled legislature this year, leaving thousands of people without access to the health care they need.
4/7/20, Miami Herald, Florida argues Medicaid expansion hurts state. Experts say right now, it could help
Key Points:

  • “For years, Florida has turned down federal money to expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.”
  • “But the novel coronavirus has renewed a call by Democrats and public health experts to expand Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income people, during a time when more people need medical care, safety net hospitals need reinforcement and thousands of Floridians have fallen into low income brackets due to unemployment.”
  • “Florida is one of 14 states that has not yet expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, mostly because of concerns about political optics and the potential impacts on state budgets.”
  • “Covering more people under Medicaid, the paper argues, would infuse federal dollars into state economies that are on the verge of a major downturn due to coronavirus. And unlike other types of stimulus spending, it requires no new infrastructure.”
  • According to a March report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Florida ranks in the bottom 10 in three out of four measures of recession preparedness because of a “weak unemployment insurance system,” “failure to expand Medicaid” and “inadequate reserves,” according to the report.
  • “House Speaker José Oliva said in a statement that talk of Medicaid expansion “continues to be an unfortunate distraction” from other moves the state has made on healthcare like repealing Certificate of Need requirements, introducing telehealth services and increasing the supply of healthcare providers thru scope of practice reforms for nurse practitioners.”
  • “The speaker, a Miami Lakes Republican, harshly criticized Medicaid expansion as “the worst of all mandates” when he took his leadership position in 2019.”
  • “Rep. Nicholas Duran, a Miami Democrat and ranking member of the House Health and Human Services Committee, said on a press call with other Democrats and healthcare experts last week that Florida is “walking two steps behind.”’
  • “Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo has slammed Republicans for not considering Democrat-led bills that would expand Medicaid, and Democratic Senators like Gary Farmer, of Lighthouse Point, have asked that the state waive Medicaid eligibility requirements for all residents not currently insured.”
  • “In January, Democratic legislators introduced bills in both chambers to put a constitutional amendment expanding Medicaid to a statewide vote. Both bills failed to make progress in the Republican-controlled Legislature.”

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