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Gardiner Proposes Medicaid Compromise; Rick Scott Isn't Thrilled

May 27, 2015 - 12:45am

While Florida lawmakers gear up for a special session beginning next week in Tallahassee, a co-star in the cast of next week's extravaganza is putting forward what he dubs a "compromise" on the issue dividing the House and Senate: Medicaid expansion. 

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, unveiled a plan Tuesday which would allow Florida's eligible 800,000 Medicaid managed-care recipients to receive premium credit to shop around for federal health care plans at the beginning of next year. 
Gardiner is calling the plan FHIX 2.0, a plan that would allow recipients to stay on the federal health care plan rather than opting into the state plan. 
In a column for the Orlando Sentinel, Gardiner explained allowing patients to shop around for plans would "lessen the need for supplemental payments to hospitals" and thus cut back on how heavily Florida relies on Low Income Pool funding. 
Even if the House goes along, the federal government still must sign off on the plan. 
Florida won't simply bend to the will of Washington, said Gardiner. 
"Just like all other federal money Florida receives, totaling over one-third of our budget, health-care funding comes with strings attached," wrote Gardiner. "To address this concern and protect taxpayers from another federal entitlement program, FHIX contracts will end if Washington fails to meet its financial commitments to Florida."
However great Gardiner thought the compromise was, it wasn't met with widespread approval. 
Gov. Rick Scott criticized the plan for costing Floridians in the long run. 
"The Senate’s plan to expand Medicaid under Obamacare will cost Florida taxpayers $5 billion over 10 years," he said Tuesday. "A budget that keeps Florida’s economy growing will cut taxes and give Floridians back more of the money they earn, not inevitably raise taxes in order to implement Obamacare and grow government."
Scott reiterated the state would continue to ask HHS for a response to increase health care access for Floridians. He sent a letter to the federal government earlier this month asking several questions, including whether HHS would consider giving Florida a block grant of federal money to decide how to cover those who currently do not have government or private health insurance. 

The House has not yet responded to the Senate's early compromise attempt. 
Special session begins Monday, June 1. 

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