Governor Rick Scott's proposal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare has hit a snag in the Florida legislature.
Conservatives on the House committee charged with approving the expansion rejected it instead.
Florida Governor Rick Scott's plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a setback on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee hearing.
On the eve of convening of the 2013 session, the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rejected the expansion. A Senate counterpart committee postponed consideration of the issue, which is sure to be one of the biggest controversies of the session.
Scott, a Republican who bitterly fought President Barack Obama's national healthcare plan as a candidate and in his first two years as governor, stunned conservative supporters on Feb. 20 when he endorsed a three-year expansion of Medicaid, provided the federal government picks up the full cost for the first three years as promised.
"There's definitely a fight between the governor and the (state) legislature over this. The Republicans in the legislature are much more fiscally conservative than his actions have shown him to be," said Susan MacManus, a Tampa-based political scientist at the University of South Florida.
Republican legislative leaders have been openly hostile toward the plan, emphasizing that state lawmakers will make the final decision in drawing up a budget for next fiscal year.
While Democrats have pushed for full implementation of so-called "Obamacare," the controlling Republican leadership has warned that the federal government might not keep its end of the bargain, leaving the state with a million more Medicaid recipients and reduced federal funding to cover them.
One can easily see the point of the Republican legislators. What guarantee do they have that a few years down the road that budget cutting in Washington wouldn't target state Medicaid payments? This is no idle worry considering the number of people that will be added to state Medicaid rolls.
The Medicaid expansion has always been a tough sell largely because of the concerns expressed by local lawmakers that Washington might leave them in the lurch down the road. What ever guarantees Scott, Christie, and other GOP governors got from HHS that the funds would flow better have been good ones.