Gov. Rick Scott accused of using 'false' Medicaid expansion numbers
In a Sunday Times editorial and again when speaking to the media in Washington on Monday, Gov. Rick Scott said it will cost Florida $26 billion over the first 10 years to expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"As you know Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration put out their estimate of what the expansion would cost just for Florida taxpayers and it's over $26 billion," Scott said Monday.
Today, PolitiFact rated that statement "False," saying "the state study relies on questionable or downright misleading assumptions to reach its eye-popping figure."
Health News Florida also reported today that the governor was warned weeks ago that he was using inaccurate numbers that could breach state law if they were utilized.
The governor's office has released a statement that defends Scott's decision to use the numbers in the AHCA report while also acknowledging that other estimates exist that paint a different picture.
“AHCA’s report concluded that adding people to Medicaid under the new law would cost Florida $26 billion over 10 years," Melissa Sellers, Scott's spokeswoman, said in the news release. "Others have asked AHCA to use different assumptions to calculate different cost estimates. We look forward to reviewing those cost estimates as well."
For example, an earlier state report said the Medicaid expansion cost over 10 years would be about $8 billion. A Kaiser Family Foundation study said Florida would only be on the hook for about $1 billion from 2013 to 2022. And even another report by the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University said the state could save up to $100 million a year because allowing people to join Medicaid would reduce the financial burden on other state-funded safety net programs.
Here is the full release from the governor's office:
Governor Rick Scott’s Communications Director, Melissa Sellers, released the following statement today on the cost estimates projected by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) that the Governor discussed with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday. (The full AHCA cost projection is available here: http://ahca.myflorida.com/medicaid/pdffiles/SSEC_ACA_12-17-12_Medicaid_Estimates.pdf.)
“The discussion underway now about the cost of adding people in Medicaid under the new healthcare law is incredibly important. Gov. Scott is focused on improving the cost, quality and access of healthcare for Florida families. When he met with Sec. Sebelius yesterday in Washington, they discussed the AHCA cost estimate report and the Governor’s concerns about how taxpayers could afford to nearly double the number of people in Medicaid.
“AHCA’s report concluded that adding people to Medicaid under the new law would cost Florida $26 billion over 10 years. Others have asked AHCA to use different assumptions to calculate different cost estimates. We look forward to reviewing those cost estimates as well.
“There are three things the Governor has stressed that remain unchanging in this important discussion about cost estimates. First, growing government is never free. Second, the number of people in Medicaid would nearly double with the new law (from approximately 3.3 million today to over 6 million). And third, once government grows, it is almost never undone. The fiscal cliff debate in Washington is proof enough of that. Additionally, as the AHCA report points out, federal projections on growing government have a long history of being much lower than actual costs.
“Beyond understanding the cost of adding people in Medicaid, the Governor believes it is important that any healthcare decision improve the quality of services available to Floridians at a cost they can afford.”