House Republicans united to defeat an amendment sponsored by one of their own that would have killed their proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion.
Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, unsuccessfully attempted to gut the bill House plan, crafted by close friend Rep. Richard Corcoran, today.He was the lone Republican who fought against the plan to use only state funds to help the poorest Floridians who are uninsured. But the outcoming was not surprising.
Democrats supported Fasano's "strike-all" amendment that would have replaced the contents of HB 7169 with a Senate plan created by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. The Senate proposal qualifies for $51 billion federal funds to insure 1 million people, has bipartisan support in that chamber and is backed by Gov. Rick Scott and a host of health and consumer groups.
Fasano, who backed Negron's plan all along, essentially forced a House vote on the Senate plan. He asked House Republicans to support the plan drafted by a member of their own party.
"It wasn't proposed by the Democrats, it was proposed by a conservative Republican who used to be the Appropriations chair of this chamber and is now the Appropriations chair in the Senate and advocates a proposal that will help hundreds of thousands of people" get insurance, he said.
House Republicans stuck with their smaller plan, which uses up to $300 million in state dollars each year to buy basic coverages for about 130,000 low-income Floridians. It also expects another 400,000 people to receive tax breaks and purchase insurance using federal health exchanges.
Republicans described the Senate plan as irresponsible -- because it qualifies for federal funding they believe won't always be available and could burden an already over-taxed health care system -- and wrong because it builds on a broken program.
"Call it whatever you want but this amendment is still Medicaid expansion," said Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples.
The vote against the Fasano amendment/Senate plan was 74-45.
The House is expected to approve HB 7169 Friday. The Senate is expected to approve its plan, SB 1816, on Monday.
Republicans leaders in both chambers say they would like to iron out a compromise, but with just eight days left in session there is a difference between the two proposals. The Senate has indicated it wants a plan that includes some federal dollars for the poorest Floridians. The House has resisted allowing childless adults to be covered, regardless of who pays.??