Will Senate forgo federal dollars to compromise with House on Medicaid expansion?
UPDATE: Sen. Aaron Bean's proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion is on the Senate's agenda for Monday. But it appears the Fernandina Beach Republican is drastically changing the contents of the bill and it might not have anything to do with Medicaid expansion after he's done with it.
For now, Bean's amendment deletes all the text from SB 1844, essentially leaving it a blank document with a description saying the bill will deal solely with the state's health exchange, called Florida Health Choices. The Florida Times-Union's political blog says Bean wants to use the bill solely to bolster the state exchange and it would no longer be a potential vehicle for providing health coverages to poor Floridians.
ORIGINAL POST: Although the Senate rejected Medicaid expansion, it insisted on creating an alternative that still qualified for related federal funding to insure 1 million Floridians, an estimated $51 billion.
The Senate has unanimously supported a plan by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, that accomplishes just that. Meanwhile, a second plan by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, was more controversial. Only Republicans voted in favor of Bean's plan at its three committee hearings, saying they liked his proposal less than Negron's but wanted to keep it alive in hopes of bargaining with the House.
Earlier this week, Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said that it was unlikely Bean's plan would make it to the Senate floor for a vote since Negron's plan had wider support. But today, Bean's plan, SB 1844, joined Negron's proposal, SB 1816, on the Senate agenda for Monday.
Stakeholder groups are now scrambling to interpret what that means and figure out if the Bean plan, which could pass on a simple majority vote without Democrats' support, will be the Senate's attempt at compromise with the House. It would use roughly $30 million in state funding a year to provide about $120 in subsidies to participants to help them afford basic coverages.
Both the Bean plan and the one created by House Republicans reject federal funding. The House plan provides more money, but the Bean plan includes more people, mainly 400,000 childless adults. That could be the sticking point with House Republicans, who have been relunctant to include childless adults in any plan, saying they are expensive to cover and the least in need of government support.
"To expand into that population with resources that would have to be taken away from this disabled and working parent population would be something that the House would have to entertain that would be clearly against the stance that we've had so far," said Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, a sponsor of the House plan.
Bean has said all along that his plan could be the only way that both chambers are able to reach a middle ground.
Click here for a chart comparing all three plans to Medicaid expansion (scroll to bottom).