Florida Senate committee blocks Medicaid expansion
A Republican-led Senate committee in Florida has handed Governor Rick Scott a stinging defeat when they voted 7-4 not to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor.
Rebuffung Gov. Rick Scott's support of Medicaid expansion, a Florida Senate committee on Monday rejected the idea, all but ending the possibility that the state would add more poor people to Medicaid rolls.
But the Senate panel debating the expansion proposed a compromise: to accept the federal money but use it to put low-income people into private insurance plans. Accepting the money would please the governor and a number of Floridians, while steering people away from Medicaid, which many lawmakers and residents view as troubled.
The committee vote to reject a Medicaid expansion under President Obama's health care overhaul was 7 to 4, with Democrats voting for the expansion.
Last week, a Florida House committee voted to reject Medicaid expansion altogether, saying that the system was broken and that adding people to the rolls would cost taxpayers too much money in the long run. The House speaker, Will Weatherford, a Republican, said it was the wrong approach, calling it a "dangerous path."
From the start, Mr. Scott knew it would be difficult for the Florida Legislature to embrace Medicaid expansion, even for only three years, which is what he proposed. The governor had staked his political career on derailing what he calls "Obamacare," and his abrupt reversal did not endear him to conservatives in Florida or in the Legislature.
Last week, he made it clear he was not going to lobby the Legislature on Medicaid, preferring to use his influence to push through raises for teachers and eliminate a manufacturing sales tax.
Next year, we are going to add millions of people to the Medicaid rolls while reducing payments to doctors and hospitals. This combination will likely lead to chaos as doctors and hospitals refuse to take on additional Medicaid patients. The idea of taking federal money and buying private insurance policies for poor people is almost as bad. Ultimately, the state of Florida is going to have to start paying for at least some of those insureds and costs will skyrocket.
But then, by the time that happens, Governor Scott will be out of office and it won't be his problem. Thankfully, Florida's state legislature took a longer view of the problem and acted accordingly.