By Jim Rosica
“The resolutions will put before the voters the opportunity to determine whether approximately 800,000 working poor without healthcare should be able to get the insurance Florida’s taxpayers have already paid for,” they said in a statement.
Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham also came out last month in support of a constitutional amendment on Medicaid expansion.
“Maine recently passed a constitutional amendment that mirrors Florida’s proposal, and states including Utah and Idaho are considering ballot initiatives as well, indicating that momentum is building across the country,” the lawmakers’ statement said.
“It is time for the Legislature to listen,” Taddeo added Thursday.
The House’s Republican leadership, however, has been vehemently opposed to Medicaid expansion for years, virtually ensuring the measure won’t survive that chamber in the 2018 Legislative Session. That’s despite some polls showing support for such a ballot initiative at nearly 70 percent.
Expanding Medicaid to cover working poor without health insurance is a provision of the Affordable Care Act. When lawmakers first began considering such a move in 2013, Florida could have received close to $51 billion over 10 years, according to reports.
As the Tampa Tribune has reported, the idea was to “wean states, including Florida, from another federal funding source known as the Low Income Pool, or LIP. The pool reimburses hospitals for charity care.
But “House leadership warn(ed) that the federal government (then under President Obama) could withhold dollars at any time, leaving state taxpayers stuck with the bill,” the paper reported. “Close to a third of the state budget already goes to paying for Medicaid.”
Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposed budget for 2018-19 “provides more than $1.5 billion annually over five years to fund the low income pool (LIP), in the event hospital districts decide to contribute the necessary matching funds,” according to the Governor’s Office.
“It is incumbent on the hospital districts to partner with the federal government to draw down these funds,” its website says. “The LIP program is a federal matching program that provides federal funds to Florida hospitals to cover costs for the state’s most vulnerable patients.
“This year, Gov. Scott worked with the federal government to secure this critical funding. This funding is an increase of more than $892 million over what was provided by the Obama Administration.”