Friday, April 20, 2018
Politics

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 [email protected]

Comments
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18
Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to be...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago this week in an effort to shore up their relationship amid strains in the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of Trump’s potential summit with the leader of North Korea.Abe is...
Published: 04/14/18