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Negron: Compromise on Medicaid expansion 'unlikely'

Chances are not good that the House and the Senate will reach agreement on Medicaid expansion or any alternative, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said today.

"I'd like to pass a bill that provides health insurance premium assistance to a million Floridians who get up and go to work everyday but need some help with paying for their health insurance premiums, that's what I would prefer," he said. "But that appears unlikely at this point."

The Senate plan drafted by Negron would accomplish that goal. The Senate is expected to approve that proposal, HB 7169/SB 1816 on Tuesday. But the House has already rejected that plan and pushed one of its own that the Senate turned down today.

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The two sides disagree on who should be covered and how it will be paid for. House Republicans refused to cover 400,000 childless adults in their plan and are unwilling to accept federal dollars for the poorest Floridians.

The plan used up to $300 million in state funding to subsidize basic coverages for about 130,000 people. Negron said he feared that those participants wouldn't be able to afford the premiums and copayments even after receiving $2,000 subsidies. His plan uses $51 billion in federal funding to provide insurance for all eligible participants.

"We have a different way to do it, and in the end it's difficult to resolve strongly held viewpoints about how to pay for things," he said.

Negron said he still talks regularly with Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, who wrote the House plan, but he doesn't anticipate them reaching middle ground.

"Is you question what are the odds of there being a compromise and we pass the bill? Unlikely," he told reporters today. Negron also said a special session dedicated to the Medicaid expansion issue was "improbable."

Neither side should be blamed if Medicaid expansion is unresolved when the Legislature adjourns this week, he said. "I think everyone has done their very best to try to solve the problem," he said. "It may be a bridge too far."