The Senate is ready to approve its alternative to Medicaid expansion, a program that qualifies for $51 billion in federal funding to insure 1 million people. Members will do so without considering a rival plan from House Republicans.
The Senate's decision to stick with its plan and not consider the House's makes it even less likely the two sides will reach a compromise by Friday, the final day of session.
The House sent its plan, HB 7169, to the Senate after approving it last week after roughly seven hours of debate over two days. Today, there was no discussion and no objections as the Senate agreed to remove the language in the House bill and replace it with the Senate's proposal.
The Senate is expected to approve the now amended House bill on Tuesday.
Sen. Joe Negron, the architect of the Senate plan, used very different language explaining his proposal than House Republicans did last week when they rejected it. They described his plan as just an extension of the failed Medicaid system that didn't provide quality insurance coverages to low-income Floridians.
"Nothing in this bill expands Medicaid," the Stuart Republican said today. "We don't want to expand Medicaid, and we want to have a Florida solution and not Washington solution."
The Senate also gutted a third proposal created by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, that was similar to the House Republican plan. He agreed to an amendment that erased the language initially contained in SB 1844.
Now that bill simply allocates $900,000 to fund Florida Health Choices, the state-based insurance exchange that pre-dates the health care law. The Senate approved the amended bill unanimously.