Jeb Bush opposed to Florida Medicaid expansion
March 6th, 2013
01:21 PM ET
1 year ago

Jeb Bush opposed to Florida Medicaid expansion

(CNN) – Florida's former governor Jeb Bush isn't in alignment with the Sunshine State's current Republican executive on the issue of accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage to more lower income residents.

Asked by CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper about Rick Scott's recent decision to accept the funds, which are included as part of President Barack Obama's sweeping health care law, Bush said he had reservations about the Medicaid expansion, which will be totally funded by the federal government for the first three years. After that, federal funding will be phased down.

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"I have doubts because I think if three years from now, as I understand it, three or four years from now, the deal is that the fed match goes from 95 back to what it is now, which is about 55 in Florida," Bush said.

"It's been my experience that it's been hard to tell people that once they've gotten some benefits, 'Sorry you can't have it now,'" he continued.

While Bush is correct that federal financing for Medicaid expansion phases down, the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates the federal matching level would remain at 90% for "2020 and beyond."

In his acceptance of the Medicaid expansion, Scott faced blowback from conservative Republicans who oppose Obama's health law as an overreach of the federal government. Scott was once a leading voice against the law, and campaigned heavily against it during his 2010 bid for governor.

In agreeing to the provision last month, Scott said he could not "in good conscience deny the uninsured access to care."

"We will support a three-year expansion of our Medicaid program under the new healthcare law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during this time," he said.

The expansion faced a set back earlier this week, however, when a Florida House committee on Monday declined to produce on a bill expanding Medicaid in the state.

Republicans on the Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act questioned whether the funding from the federal government would actually last for three years, given current wrangling in Washington over federal spending and the national debt. They also worried about expanding a program in Florida they characterized as broken.

Medicaid expansion in Florida isn't totally dead, however. A Florida Senate panel postponed a vote Monday on whether or not to accept the Obamacare provision, saying it needed more time to digest information that was presented by the state's economist. If the Senate panel votes it through, followed by the full Florida Senate, then it would go to the full Florida House for consideration. Republicans hold significant majorities in both chambers of the Florida legislature, making an expansion Medicaid far from certain in the state.

The Medicaid expansion program would extend medical coverage to all adults with annual incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, which is currently $14,404 for an individual.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Florida • Jeb Bush • Medicaid
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    rs

    If Republicans are going to dismiss Medicaid expansion (especially to the poor and elderly), they simply must explain what their policy is to ensure cheap, and equitable access to medical care for all is, OR they must justify why they support creating a condition in the richest nation in the world where 40% of the population no longer can afford health care- and why in their minds that is acceptable, or even sane.
    -------
    If you had any knowledge on the subject of healthcare expenses, you would realize that Medicare and Medicaid ARE THE REASON HEALTHCARE COSTS RISE FAR FASTER THAN INFLATION.

    Why? It's very simple, actually. The government reimburses healthcare providers at rates that are far below what it takes for the providers to be profitable. Rather than go out of business, they raise the rates of their services to cover the financial loss of caring for Medicare / Medicaid patients. This "cost shifting" has been going on since the 70's when the full effects of Medicare on the healthcare delivery system began to take effect. And why is it accelerating? Because the number of people on Medicare and Medicaid is accelerating as well. All you need to do is look at a graph of Healthcare Cost Inflation and compare it to a graph of Medicare / Medicaid covered lives, over time. The relationship is undeniable.

    March 6, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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