Fla. Senate president mum on Medicaid expansion

Gaetz says he wants his chamber to try to get answers before moving forward

Published On: Mar 08 2013 04:39:07 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 08 2013 04:39:35 PM EST
Florida Capitol building
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

All eyes were on Senate President Don Gaetz on Friday as he spoke to a crowd of business professionals. The question on everyone's mind, will Gaetz side with House Speaker Will Weatherford or Gov. Rick Scott on Medicaid expansion?

During the State of the State address Scott reasserted his support for a massive Medicaid expansion.

"I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care," said Scott.

A million more Floridians would qualify for coverage if state lawmakers accept the $20 billion to expand the entitlement program.

But right now, the expansion is dead. House Speaker Will Weatherford is opposing the governor over opposition from Democrats in his chamber and some Republicans.

"We are a donor state. The federal government wants to give us our money back," said House Republican Mike Fasano. "Let's use those dollars to help the little guy and little girl."

"If we can help families and we can help them early, we can actually save lives," said House Minority Leader Perry Thurston.

If the House continues to opposition the expansion, the Senate's decision won't matter.

"It sounded to me like no, no, hell no," said Gaetz.

But if Gaetz does move to accept the money, it could influence the House.

"I want to be very, very prudent about this," said Gaetz. "There could be alternatives to Medicaid expansion the way that Obamacare envisions it."

The only deadline Gaetz is putting on the Senate's decision is before the end of session.

Gaetz said there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the Medicaid expansion. He wants his chamber to try to get answers before moving forward.