Florida GOP Stops Health-Care Expansion for Low-Income Families

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Florida GOP Stops Health-Care Expansion for Low-Income Families

Nina Liss-Schultz

Florida’s Republican-led house on Friday ended this legislative session’s debate over whether to use federal Medicaid money toward health-care expansion, voting down a senate proposal 72 to 41.

Florida’s Republican-led house on Friday ended this legislative session’s debate over whether to use federal Medicaid money toward health-care expansion, voting down a senate proposal 72 to 41.

The vote came during a special session called to decide the budget. House lawmakers ended their regular session days early, citing an impasse over Medicaid expansion in the state. Some Florida Republicans said they opposed Medicaid because it constitutes socialist health-care policy.

On Wednesday of that week, the state senate passed a bill that would have used federal money to help pay for the cost of Floridians’ private insurance, a plan that would have affected about 600,000 low-income people, according to state estimates.

“It’s something we cannot afford, not only in Florida, but in the rest of the nation, if we have government controlled health care,” Rep. Doug Broxson (R-Milton) said during a seven-hour floor debate over the bill on Friday. “History tells us that anything the government is involved in tends to expand. I’m very concerned that we could spend all our gross national product on health care, and it would take away from every other program we have in the state.”

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Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) said during the debate that “Medicaid is socialized health care insurance,” and creates a “permanent dependency” on handouts, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The house vote broke down along party lines, with Democrats expressing displeasure during the debate with conservative opposition to providing health care for more low-income families.

“It’s sort of like not taking your heart medicine because you’re waiting for a heart transplant,” said Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D), according to the Miami Herald. “We have to deal with what Florida needs.”

The bill was doomed from the start: The house has maintained its opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently said he would veto an expansion plan if it were to come to his desk.

Scott, a former hospital executive whose company paid more than $600 million in fines for defrauding Medicare, has said he supports Medicaid expansion. But he changed his mind this year, after the federal government said it would stop funding a Florida health program for low-income people.

The governor filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in April, alleging it was trying to coerce Florida into expanding Medicaid.

He told Politico in February that he would not take action if the U.S. Supreme Court guts the Affordable Care Act’s insurance subsidies, saying that it would be a “federal problem.”

Florida has 1.6 million people enrolled in ACA health plans, more than any other state in the country. Nine in ten of those people receive subsidies to pay for their insurance plans.