Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama administration to Florida lawmakers: It's not too late to expand Medicaid



The Obama administration had a message Wednesday for Florida lawmakers: It’s still not too late to expand Medicaid.

In a hastily arranged news conference, Paul Dioguardi, director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, highlighted the state residents with the most to lose if Florida does not expand eligibility for the Medicaid program:

The 1 million people who would not qualify for Medicaid – yet would be too poor to qualify for federal subsidies to help purchase insurance coverage on the online market exchange.

The federal health care law, assuming states would increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid, says only people who make at least the federal poverty level can qualify for help buying coverage. Those who make less than the poverty level? They’re out of luck.

“That’s a group that will be stuck in the middle without access to coverage,” said Dioguardi.

Florida lawmakers rejected an expansion of Medicaid last session, and leaders have said they do not plan to hold a special session to take up the matter again. That raises the question: Why is the Obama administration still trying to make its case?

Dioguardi said officials remain “encouraged” by the ongoing debate about expansion, as well as its support from Gov. Rick Scott.

“There is no deadline from our perspective,” he said. “Anytime the state would like to accept the expanded Medicaid, they’re welcome to do that.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 2:54pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours