Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Scott won't answer question on Medicaid for more Floridians

TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott refused Wednesday to say whether he still supports expanding Medicaid eligibility to more uninsured and poor Floridians, an issue Democrats are certain to stress during his re-election campaign next year.

Appearing at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute on Wednesday, Scott for the second time this week publicly dodged questions about his position on expanding Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor. Though Scott surprised many observers by endorsing expansion earlier this year, he also was criticized for failing to press House Republicans to accept the plan.

On Wednesday, Scott responded to a question about Medicaid expansion by talking about people whose private insurance plans were canceled due to new coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

"Everybody is worried about the politics of the law," he said. "Here's my concern: It's going to impact the cost of health care, the quality of health care and access to health care. Have a great day."

He turned away as a reporter asked about the 800,000 Floridians who are too poor to qualify for subsidized insurance under the federal law, yet can't qualify for Medicaid.

Florida's Medicaid program is one of the stingiest in the nation, covering mostly children, pregnant women and the disabled. The Affordable Care Act calls for covering all low-income Americans through Medicaid, but the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the option to decline.

Florida Republican legislative leaders have said they would rather turn down $51 billion in federal funds over 10 years because they so firmly oppose expanding what they see as a flawed entitlement program.

On Wednesday, the liberal advocacy group Progress Florida circulated a video from another news conference this week in which Scott would not say whether his past support of Medicaid expansion continues. "Florida voters, and especially uninsured families, have a right to know if Scott is backpedaling or has flip-flopped on his support for expanding Medicaid," the group said in a statement.

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who's running for his old job as a Democrat, has also criticized Scott's handling of Medicaid.

Scott appeared Wednesday at Moffitt for an event his office organized to highlight the $50 million in state funding for cancer research approved during last spring's legislative session, though that funding already has been publicized. Moffitt received $10.4 million of the allocation.

Last week, Scott appeared at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg to talk about funding for medical education, also approved months ago.

Scott had no new information to report Wednesday about cancer funding, saying only he wants it to continue. "We've got to continue investing in the right things," he told reporters.

Also on hand were Moffitt executives, including chief executive officer Dr. Alan List, and University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft.

The governor stood in front of about 60 Moffitt researchers in white coats. Behind them hung posters describing Moffitt research projects. However, they were financed by the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency, not the state.

Three hours after Scott's news conference at Moffitt, a spokeswoman from his office called the Times to say that Scott made his stance clear when he endorsed Medicaid expansion last spring.

But, like her boss, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz would not give a yes or no answer to the Medicaid question. "There's no new update," was all she would say.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.

Scott won't answer question on Medicaid for more Floridians 12/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers


    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem


    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  4. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.
  5. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921