Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

One month later, Florida lawmakers no closer to Medicaid deal

TALLAHASSEE — Two House Republicans unwittingly revived hopes this month that lawmakers could compromise on a proposal to expand Medicaid.

"Lawmakers say Medicaid expansion not dead" read the headline in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, highlighting comments from Manatee County Reps. Greg Steube and Jim Boyd.

But the reality is no different today than it was when the legislative session ended last month:

Medicaid expansion, or some alternative, remains a long shot.

"All I was simply trying to say was, we all agree it's an important issue," Boyd told the Times/Herald about his remarks at a June 6 luncheon. "We thought we had a pretty good plan."

That plan, championed by House Speaker Will Weatherford, included saying no to $51 billion in federal money over 10 years. Instead, House Republicans proposed using up to $300 million in state funding to subsidize basic coverages for about 130,000 people.

The Senate and Gov. Rick Scott rejected the idea out-of-hand, just as House Republicans swatted away any attempt to include federal money to expand health care to 1 million or more Floridians.

Both Boyd and Steube told constituents they would be open to a special session to try to reach some agreement. But several House members told the Times/Herald that is unlikely unless Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, hears an offer he likes.

House leaders insist it's the federal government, not they, that needs to bend. They want the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to approve plans that qualify for some, but not all, of the Medicaid expansion funding. In particular, House Republicans are hesitant to provide subsidized health care to childless adults.

"I think they need to give the states more flexibility," said Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, a top Weatherford ally who crafted the House plan.

While Florida lawmakers remain at a standstill, other states are pushing forward with Medicaid expansion. In Arizona on Thursday, a coalition of moderate Republicans joined Democrats to extend coverage to 350,000 low-income residents.

There, the issue was resolved only after Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican who once opposed the health care law, called the Legislature into special session. She did so without the blessing of Republican leaders but after she became concerned that the regular session would end without an agreement.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia are moving forward with Medicaid expansion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, while Florida is among 20 that are not. The remaining seven are undecided.

Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is the only House Republican to publicly support using the $51 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid. He said he thinks the Legislature will eventually reach an agreement, but, "It's not going to happen anytime soon."

"I believe that when businesspeople start hearing this, the local chambers of commerce and other business groups, I think the pressure will start to build," Fasano said. A provision in the law requires businesses to provide health care coverage to some employees who may have qualified for Medicaid or face steep fines.

Although Florida has not expanded Medicaid, it is moving forward with a massive overhaul of the existing program. On Friday, the state received the waiver it needed from the federal government to transfer 3 million Medicaid participants to private managed care companies. Lawmakers hope this will help reduce program costs.

Florida received conditional approval of its Medicaid waiver in February, and Scott decided to announce his support for accepting federal expansion dollars that same day.

Contact Tia Mitchell at

One month later, Florida lawmakers no closer to Medicaid deal 06/14/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 8:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  2. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal


    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]

  3. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  4. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  5. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season.