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Politics

Weatherford, House Committee Say Medicaid Expansion Not Right for Florida

March 3, 2013 - 6:00pm

A House committee set up to examine the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act voted Monday not to support expansion in Medicaid coverage in Florida, in direct opposition to Gov. Rick Scott's recommendation.

The Select Committee on PPACA moved not to accept money from the federal government.House Speaker Will Weatherford and conservative groups immediately voiced their support of the committees decision.

I am proud of the thoughtful, thorough and deliberative approach that our Select Committee took on the important issues related to Medicaid expansion and health exchanges, said Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. I received their recommendations and agree that expanding Medicaid and setting up a state exchange is not in the best interest of our state.

Critics of the Medicaid expansion have worried about what will happen when, inevitably, its Floridas turn to pick up the tab.

We simply cannot count on the federal government to pay 100 percent of the cost for expansion, continued the speaker. The facts show that health care costs will go up for many Floridians, while access to and quality of health care will go down. The 'all or nothing' approach that the Obama administration is offering will not work for our state. I know there will be continued discussion about this matter, and I look forward to exploring better policies for our state.

The Select Committee's final vote of 10-5 was cast in favor of Rep. Matt Hudson's (R-Naples) motion to direct staff not to write any legislation that would make Medicaid expansion law in Florida.

The James Madison Institute pointed to a recent survey they conducted that revealed more than 63 percent of people were wary the federal government wouldnt keep their funding promise. JMI warns costs of programs such as these are often underestimated and said there is a history of the feds defaulting on their promises.

"The House made the right decision today to not draft a committee bill expanding Medicaid under PPACA provisions, said Thomas Perrin, JMI director of public affairs. Many members expressed valid concerns that this could hurt the people that it is aimed at helping. State leaders should focus on providing more access to quality care -- expanding a program that is inefficient in this effort is not a way to do that.

Americans for Prosperity also entered the health-care discussion Monday, releasing the Top 10 reasons Florida should reject Medicaid expansion.

The House committee also votednot to support implementation of a state-based or partnership exchange under Obamacare in Florida. The Senate version of the select committee was scheduled to take up the issue Monday afternoon but postponed the meeting. Chairman of the Senate committee, Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said more time was needed in order to get it right.

The governor's office is yet to respond.


Anne Smith writes special to Sunshine State News.

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