House Republicans held their ground and approve their proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion, a bare-bones plan that puts them in conflict with the Senate and Gov. Rick Scott.
Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, said the House plan addressed many concerns about the current Medicaid system, which he described as a costly program that will saddle the state budget and increase the national debt without improve the health of its enrollments. He said the Supreme Court's decision to make Medicaid expansion optional for states gave Florida a chance to try something different.
"We've been presented with an opportunity here in Florida to do something revolutionary," Wood said.
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Democrats, who tried unsuccessfully Thursday to replace the House Republican plan with the Senate's bipartisan proposal, continued to criticize the House plan as inadequate for Florida's poorest families.
"This bill is wrapped in a beautiful box. The paper is beautiful. The bow is beautiful," said Rep. Mia Jones, R-Jacksonville. "But when you open that box up, the box is empty and it's filled with empty promises."
The House vote was 71-45 in favor of the plan created by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity. His close friend, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, voted "no" with the Democrats. It was Fasano who filed the failed amendment Thursday that attempted to replace the House plan with the Senate's.
The Senate will decide as early as Monday whether to accept the House plan or stick with their bipartisan proposal that insures more people and qualifies for $51 billion federal dollars.
If the Senate holds its ground, too, Republican leaders in both chambers would have just a few days to work out a compromise before the end of session.
The Medicaid expansion dollars are available to Florida starting in January, so a plan would have to be in place before then. Scott has not said what he would do if a proposal landed on his desk that did not qualify for the federal dollars or insure all of the people who qualify under expansion.
Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, encouraged the governor to veto anything that doesn't meet those standards and kill the budget, too.
"If no health care for those 1.1 million people who are uninsured is in this budget to cover them, you need to veto that budget and send us back here to do our job," he said.